“Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hopes that his upcoming visit to Greece will be a catalyst that can further deepen Greek-Turkish ties in all areas,” European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos told journalists after meeting Erdogan in Ankara today.
Erdogan is due to visit Greece on December 7-8 for talks with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and President Prokopis Pavlopoulos. It is unclear if he plans to visit.
Avramopoulos said that the migration crisis and EU-Turkey relations was on the agenda of the discussions.
‘We discussed the migration issue, its ramifications and prospects, always in conjunction with the implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement,” Avramopoulos said.
“We also discussed issues pertaining to security and counter-terrorism cooperation between the EU and Turkey,” he underlined.
“Naturally, we discussed Mr. Erdogan’s forthcoming visit to Athens, the success of which can inaugurate a new era in Greek-Turkish relations, relations that have been tested many times in the past, but which over the last years have clearly improved. They can improve even further in the future, to the benefit of both of our peoples and countries,” Avramopoulos said.
The European Commissioner was in Ankara to address the eighth annual Bosphorus Summit this evening.
The two men are acquainted since the 1990’s, when Erdogan was mayor of Istanbul and Avramopoulos was mayor of Athens. Avramopoulos had expressed support for Erdogan when the latter was imprisoned for reciting an Islamist poem in the strictly Kemalist and secularist Turkey of that era.
“My sense is that [Erdogan] looks forward to this visit, and it is not by chance that he canceled very important commitments to be in Athens. He hopes and expects that this trip will be a catalyst for further cultivating Greek-Turkish relations in all sectors,” Avramopoulos said.
In an interview with the Turkish daily Hurriyet, Avramopoulos described Turkey as a key partner for the EU, and the EU as a key partner for Turkey. He stressed that Turkey should continue its approach to the EU and European democratic values.