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Erdoğan signals better ties with Greece, Israel following meetings

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signaled positive developments were on the horizon for Türkiye’s relations with Greece and Israel, as he highlighted intense diplomatic efforts to revitalize relations, following a series of bilateral talks over the week.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, journalists pose for a photo at the Turkish House in New York, Sept. 21, 2023. (Handout)
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, journalists pose for a photo
at the Turkish House in New York, Sept. 21, 2023. (Handout)

Noting that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has changed “quite a lot,” Erdoğan said his meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly took place in a positive atmosphere.

He was speaking to journalists at a news conference in New York.

“We both welcomed it because there’s nothing like peace,” he said.

He also noted that the Israeli prime minister may visit Türkiye in the near future.

Regarding relations with Athens, Erdoğan said the upcoming Thessaloniki summit would be an important leap in Türkiye-Greece ties.

“We hope it will change many things and will mutually benefit both sides,” he said, adding that the top diplomats of both countries would hold preliminary talks ahead of the summit.

“Our goal is to de-escalate tensions in the Aegean and Mitsotakis also has a similar attitude,” Erdoğan said, adding that the upcoming summit would change many things in Türkiye-Greece ties.

Erdoğan also pointed that the two neighbors have been through serious natural disasters recently and these disasters brought them closer, which was further strengthened by diplomatic steps.

He warned against steps and statements that would damage the current environment of trust between the two countries.

Erdoğan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis pledged to maintain the positive atmosphere regarding bilateral relations following a meeting on Wednesday.

“The leaders also confirmed the roadmap and timeline of contacts between the two countries, as agreed at the meeting of the Foreign Ministers in Ankara on September 5, which include: The meetings in mid-October of the Deputy Ministers for Foreign Affairs responsible for the political dialogue and the positive agenda; the meetings in November for the Confidence Building Measures; and the meeting of the Türkiye – Greece High-Level Cooperation Council on Dec. 7 in Thessaloniki,” the Presidential Communications Directorate said.

‘Azerbaijan op. did not target Armenia’

Meanwhile, Erdoğan noted that Azerbaijan’s anti-terror operation in Karabakh had nothing to do with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian or the Armenian state, it was targeting Armenian bandits in Karabakh, who attempted to arbitrarily hold elections, which disturbed Yerevan and Baku.

He continued by saying that Armenian separatists were warned numerous times but refused to smarten up and instead continued provocations.

“Azerbaijan took steps as they proceeded with provocations,” the president said, adding that the operation was completed in a timely manner by hitting 90 positions.

Regarding the issue of Cyprus, Erdoğan reiterated once that the recognition of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as an independent state would be the most effective step toward a solution on the island.

“We do not recognize other options,” he said, adding that federation proposals on the island are not realistic and that Türkiye, as a guarantor, will continue to defend the rights of Turkish Cypriots in line with international law.

‘Family institution crucial for humanity’s future’

Erdoğan also touched upon the importance of protecting family and expressed his disapproval of the indoctrination of LGBT ideology at an international level.

“You see the colors of the LGBT flag on the stairs as you enter the U.N. General Assembly and other areas in the compound,” he said, adding that he would’ve liked to discuss the issue with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. He noted that anti-LGBT circles have a right to express their views as much as pro-LGBT circles because this was a “humanitarian issue.”

The president said the family is the foundation stone of society and its strength is in direct correlation with the strength of society. He argued that “deviant” ideologies try to weaken the structure of the family and target youth, but Türkiye would take action to ensure that families, children and youth do not fall into the trap.

“We are determined to constitutionally protect the structure of the family,” he said, adding that Türkiye was also ready to cooperate with other countries in this regard.

Erdoğan addressed the UNGA on Tuesday, highlighting various global issues, including the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, the Karabakh conflict, the Cyprus issue, anti-Muslim hatred and more.