Greek Defense Minister says will visit earthquake-hit areas of Turkey on Apr 4

Athens, Mar 31 (FN Agency) Greek Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos said on Thursday that he would visit the earthquake-affected areas of southeastern Turkey on April 4 at the invitation of his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar. “A few days ago, in the context of exchanging messages of condolences in connection with the devastating earthquake in Turkey, as well as the railway tragedy in Tempi, my colleague suggested that I visit the earthquake-affected areas … We have chosen April 4. We will visit the earthquake-affected areas in southeastern Turkey,” Panagiotopoulos told the Mega TV broadcaster. He noted, however, that the trip did not aim to resolve all differences between Greece and Turkey. NATO allies Greece and Turkey have been at odds for decades, with the risk of an armed conflict arising several times.

The disputed issues include competing territorial claims in the eastern Mediterranean, in particular in the region of the Aegean Sea, the Greek-Turkish divide in Cyprus, and the delimitation of maritime boundaries. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has refused to communicate with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis since May 2022. However, in the event of disasters, the countries provide assistance to each other, as they did after the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria in February and the recent deadly train accident in Greece. On March 9, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said that the tragic events united the societies of the two countries and created a new atmosphere that should be used to normalize Greek-Turkish relations.