Political relations, 19.4.2018

Relations between Turkey and Greece

A new era has begun in the Turkish-Greek relations as of 1999, marked with the establishment of various dialogue mechanisms such as regular political consultations, exploratory contacts on Aegean Issues, High-Level Cooperation Council meetings as well as high-level visits and contacts. While seeking settlement to long-standing problems with Greece by means of bilateral dialogue mechanisms, Turkey aims at enhancing bilateral relations in every possible field and attributes importance to the implementation of tangible projects to the benefit of two countries.

In 2010, the High-Level Cooperation Council (HLCC) between Turkey and Greece was set up thanks to a Turkish initiative. Co-chaired by the Prime Ministers of both countries and under the coordination of Foreign Ministers, the HLCC is envisaged to convene in Turkey and Greece alternately. The HLCC aims at addressing various issues of Turkish-Greek relations at high level, thus contributing to progress in existing and prospective areas of cooperation, and rendering an “institutional” ground for Turkish-Greek relations. Four HLCC meetings have so far been held. The first meeting in Athens on May 14 and 15, 2010; the second meeting in Istanbul on March 4, 2013; the third meeting in Athens on December 6, 2014, and the last one in Izmir on March 8, 2016. 54 agreements/protocols/MoUs were signed during those meetings. Business Fora are also being held on the side-lines of the HLCC Meetings.

High-level visits have also picked up momentum over the last couple of years. In the second half of 2017 only, Presidential, Prime Ministerial and Foreign Ministerial visits were exchanged.

President Erdoğan paid an official visit to Greece, including Athens and Komotini, on December 7 and 8, 2017. This has been the first official visit at the level of heads of state between Turkey and Greece since 1952. Prime Minister Mr. Yıldırım and Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Çavuşoğlu paid a working visit to Greece (Athens and Komotini), on June 19, 2017 and on November 2 and 3, 2017, respectively. Various Ministerial visits are also taking place. The Greek Foreign Minister Mr. Kotzias paid a working visit to Turkey on October 23 and 24, 2017.

Regular political consultations are being held between the Foreign Ministries. The last political consultations were held in Ankara on January 12, 2018.

Commercial and economic relations with Greece have also gained momentum since 1999. The establishment of the HLCC mechanism in 2010 in particular has paved the way for a substantial increase in commercial relations. The bilateral trade volume thus doubled between 2010 and 2014, reaching 5.6 billion USD by the end of 2014. Although the bilateral trade volume decreased in 2015 and 2016, it gained momentum in 2017 and amounted to 3.5 billion USD.

The stock of direct investments from Greece is around 6.8 billion USD. Greek investors, operate in information technology (IT), agricultural applications, packaging, plastics, pharmacy, cosmetics, fisheries, tourism and construction sectors.

The stock of direct Turkish investments in Greece, including the investments via the other European countries amounts to approximately 500 million USD. Turkish investors mostly focus on investing in marinas, ports and the overall tourism sector in Greece. Furthermore, Ziraat Bank has branches in Athens, Xanthi and Komotini.

Transport is another field where both sides are willing to intensify their cooperation. Currently, Turkish airline operators are conducting 44 flights a week between Turkey and Greece. The implementation of projects regarding the Izmir-Thessaloniki Ro-Pax ferry line, the high-speed train link between Istanbul and Thessaloniki and construction of a second bridge at the İpsala-Kipi border crossing will pave the way for an intensified cooperation in maritime, railroad and road transport between Turkey and Greece.

Tourism is one of the promising fields of cooperation between the two countries. In 2017, around 921 thousand tourists from Turkey visited Greece. In the same year, Turkey attracted almost 595 thousand tourists from Greece. The facilitated visa procedure for visiting seven Greek islands close to Turkish shores has been in effect since 2012. It has also been instrumental in the increase of the number of Turkish tourists visiting Greece.

There are some issues between Turkey and Greece concerning the Aegean Sea. For detailed information, visit “Turkish-Greek Relations/Aegean Problems”


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