The current political climate in Türkiye and Greece, coupled with the shared commitment of political leaders to pursue a positive agenda, presents a crucial opportunity for a more constructive dialogue in Turkish-Greek relations. Having faced the detrimental effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters, earthquakes, wildfires, economic crises and the adverse repercussions and risks of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine as well as the escalating tensions in Gaza, which could impact the entire region, the two neighboring countries should, at the very least, acknowledge the imperative need to address their issues through sincere political dialogue.
Reflecting on recent history, it becomes evident that when both nations lose focus on areas of mutual interest and exclusively consider emerging opportunities and risks through a self-centric lens, they overlook broader possibilities. The potential for a collaborative mindset is underestimated by leaders and politicians on both sides. Through a dialogue-oriented approach, these neighbors can reach an understanding that maximizes their respective interests.
Following rounds of consultations and constructive diplomatic exchanges between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, acknowledging that a positive political atmosphere contributes to building mutual trust and confidence is significant. Meetings on the margins of NATO’s Vilnius summit in July 2023 and the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) in September 2023 paved the way for a positive agenda. Having witnessed the perilous consequences of unbridled political confrontations, the leaders opted for reconciliation over further escalation. It now falls upon political leaders, intellectuals and public figures in both countries to manage public sentiments and shape realistic and constructive expectations.
Stability and certainty
Amid a turbulent region, Greek-Turkish relations must stand as a pillar of stability rather than a zone of uncertainty. Equally crucial is preventing third parties from exploiting and instrumentalizing ongoing issues between Türkiye and Greece. While external interests may wane or shift, the citizens of both nations will continue to coexist. Tensions and negative political messages may surface periodically, and both parties should be prepared to address these moments with patience. Leaders must concentrate on the medium and long-term strategic gains of this constructive political dialogue process.
With an ongoing positive agenda, the leaders of both countries are embracing a new methodology to resolve their differences. This approach is grounded in mutual interests and a commitment to sustained political dialogue. Previous attempts, which focused solely on one side’s concerns, proved unsuccessful, causing both countries to miss out on numerous economic and political opportunities. Optimism, tempered by caution and patience, is the key to the success of this new process. As the positive agenda produces tangible outcomes, the support for this process among constituents in both countries will likely grow.