Greece and Turkey agreed on Wednesday (18.11) on closer cooperation to address the refugee crisis and tackle the human traffickers operating on the borders of the two countries, during the second and final day of PM Alexis Tsipras’ visit to Turkey.
Tsipras said his visit “signalled the start of a new, hopeful cycle” in relations between the two countries and in a joint press conference in Ankara, after a meeting with his counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, the two leaders announced a series of measures to curb illegal migration and refugee traffickers along their shared borders, including closer cooperation between Greek and Turkish coast guards, and cooperation mechanisms between respective Departments.
The Greek PM aimed at an immediate agreement between the EU and Turkey to limit the flow of refugees and establish a stable mechanism for relocations directly from Turkey, but there was no indication that Davutoglu was convinced to allow the creation of ‘hotspots’ to register refugees and migrants on its territory. Both depicted their countries as the victims of the refugee crisis and emphasized that the problem could not be solved without a political solution in Syria.
Davutoglu confirmed the plans for technical cooperation with Greece on illegal migration but also referred to the need to further develop relations in tourism, trade, energy and investments, to tackle issues relating to minorities, the Aegean and the Cyprus issue, to built a “common Greek-Turkish stance on the future of Europe” and to cooperate on regional and international issues, such as the Balkans and the Middle East.
The two leaders also saw an opportunity of movement towards a solution to the Cyprus issue, while Tsipras expressed a positive view on the opening of new chapters in EU accession talks with Turkey, provided that all related terms are met.
The Greek PM also met with with Ecumenical Archbishop Bartholomew in Istanbul earlier in the day, and with the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan later in Ankara.
See also: PM ‪Tsipras Op-Ed “For a New Era of Cooperation” in Turkish ‘Daily Sabah’