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Greek FM calls for cautious optimism in relations with Turkey

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At a time when tensions between Turkey and Greece have eased following major earthquakes that struck Turkey in February, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias has said his country “should be optimistic but also careful and not naive” in its relations with Turkey, the Greek Kathimerini daily reported.

“It would be wrong for Greece not to reach out a hand corresponding to that which Turkey is extending,” Dendias said in an interview with private broadcaster SKAI television, underlining that the “chances of success are few, but it is our national duty to attempt it.”

“Turkey’s long-term interests converge with those of Greece, and if the leadership reaches the same conclusion, this would be something positive,” said the minister.

Dendias also said there was unofficial consensus between the two countries that could, after the elections, lead to an effort for resuming a serious dialogue in order to “find a solution to our [sole] difference.”

Both Turkey and Greece will hold elections in May. Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections take place on May 14, while Greece’s parliamentary elections are set for May 21.

Historic rivals while also fellow members of NATO, Turkey and Greece have been at odds over issues ranging from overflights and the status of Aegean islands to maritime boundaries and hydrocarbon resources in the Mediterranean, as well as ethnically split Cyprus.

In the wake of the earthquakes, the neighbors have resumed high-level meetings, including talks attended by senior diplomats on the so-called positive agenda initiative, aimed at boosting trade and other cooperation in areas unrelated to the disputes.

Two powerful earthquakes on Feb. 6 in southern Turkey killed more than 50,000 people in the country and neighboring Syria.

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