Greek PM on Erdogan: At least I can pick up the phone now

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Tuesday he felt more comfortable picking up the phone to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan since an ice-breaking call in June.

Mitsotakis also said Greece was not one of the European Union members which insisted on keeping Turkey off a list of safe countries in an unwinding of the COVID-19 travel restrictions. The EU stance has angered Ankara.

“We are neighbours, we have significant differences, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk,” Mitsotakis told Greece’s Skai radio.

Greece and Turkey disagree on a range of issues ranging from overflights in the Aegean Sea to gas reserves in the east Mediterranean. In March tensions went up a notch when thousands of refugees that Turkey hosts attempted to storm the border between the two countries in an effort to reach the EU.

Mitsotakis and Erdogan spoke by phone on June 26, the first time that the two had spoken in months. “It’s very important that the official channels of communication have been restored… that now we can pick up the phone at any moment and speak to the other about an issue.”

The Greek premier, who came to power a year ago, said Greece and Turkey had “very different views” on a range of matters.

“I have described to the Turkish president a resolution mechanism, but it is contingent on Turkey refraining from adding to tensions, something which would render that dialogue impossible.”

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