The leaders of Greece and Turkey met on Monday for talks aimed at underlining their efforts to put aside decades-old disputes, despite disagreements on some issues.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited Ankara to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and after their two-hour face-to-face summit, the two provided joint press statements.

The two nations can “establish an approach of mutual understanding not as an exception, but as a productive normalcy that is not annulled by the well-known differences in our positions,” Mitsotakis said.

He pointed to this meeting, the fourth in the last 10 months, as proof of that and underlined that it was a positive development at a difficult time for international peace and stability in the region.

On his part, Turkish President Erdogan said that the two countries, “despite our disagreements, we are keeping our communications channels open and focusing on the positive agenda.”

“I shared my belief that there is no problem between Greece and Türkiye that cannot be resolved.”

Greece and Turkey remain in disagreement on some issues but have made agreements on others. Photo: @PrimeministerGR/X

Since agreeing to put aside their disputes last December, the two countries have maintained regular high-level contacts to promote fence-mending initiatives, such as allowing Turkish citizens to visit 10 Greek islands without a visa.

The Greek premier also said the collaboration with Turkey on illegal flows and human traffickers “must continue and be intensified.”

He referred to the Muslim minority in Thrace and said he hopes to see Hellenism flourish in Turkey while Erdogan called it a “friendship bridge between the two communities.”

One issue surrounded the conversion of Chora Monastery in Istanbul to a mosque.

“We had the opportunity to discuss our sadness, our protest for the fact,” Mitsotakis said, adding that “at the very least, it is very important to preserve the monument’s unique cultural value, so that it may be open to visits by all.”

On that, the Turkish leader noted that they are a model country in terms of protecting cultural heritage.

“We turned over the Kariye mosque to religious worship and to visitors after works of meticulous restoration following our decision in 2020.”

“We attach great significance to the protection of every work that is a UNESCO asset, and its return for use by our nation and all of humanity. The Kariye mosque is open to all.”

The two nations are also working to increase bilateral trade from the $6 billion it was last year to $10 billion.

It was announced that the leaders signed an agreement to found the Greek-Turkish Business Council, and two more agreements on collaboration in natural disasters and in the sector of health.

Fighting terrorist organisations is a priority of the bilateral agenda Erdogan noted, adding that adding that cooperation with Greece on that issue was becoming stronger.

However, they remain divided over the Israel-Hamas War.

The two gave joint press statements after their two hour meeting. Photo: @PrimeministerGR/X

“We do not always agree with Türkiye on issues related to the Middle East,” Mitsotakis said.

“Athens’ position is that Israel has every right to defend itself. However, we do agree on that the asymmetric use of force and bloodshed in the region must end and lead to a lasting ceasefire, on protecting the civilians of Gaza, and on freeing the hostages.

“We agree that it would be a colossal error to attack Gaza by land. The only viable solution is the return to a political process and the two-state solution.”

When the Greek leader described Hamas as a terrorist organisation, Erdogan jumped on the comments.

“I do not see Hamas as a terror group,” Erdogan said.

“I see it as a group of people trying to protect their own land.”

A two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, as suggested by Mitsotakis, is what Turkey propose for Cyprus.

The two nations remain locked in a dispute over the Cyprus issue, and for the past seven years, Turkey has rejected a long-standing agreement for a reunified Cyprus under a federal system.

Mitsotakis said they obviously disagree, “but the antidote to the impasse is dialog, nothing else, while the Turkish leader said a permanent solution on Cyprus will contribute to stability and peace in the entire region.