Greece and Turkey Sign Commitment To Friendly Relations

Poor Turkish-Greek relations are influenced by centuries of ethnic divisions and conflicting land claims, which has resulted in the countries fighting two major wars against one another. Recently, a sudden and unexpected break in tensions between Greece and Turkey led to a landmark agreement to mend ties.

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Executive summary

Poor Turkish-Greek relations are influenced by centuries of ethnic divisions and conflicting land claims, which has resulted in the countries fighting two major wars against one another. Recently, a sudden and unexpected break in tensions between Greece and Turkey led to a landmark agreement to mend ties.


On December 7th, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan visited Greece. Upon Erdogan’s visit, the two countries agreed to improve their relations. In particular, this commitment involved boosting trade, working on military confidence-building measures, engaging in more transparent communication and discussing issues involving the Aegean Sea. Erdogan also expressed interest in wanting to improve relations between Turkey and its Western partners and allies.

Despite Turkey and Greece’s relationship as NATO allies, their history has been turbulent, with both countries sharing negative sentiment of one another. Over the past half-century, Greece and Turkey’s disagreements almost led them to war at least three times. In 1996, Greece and Turkey mobilized for war over a pair of islets, Imia in Greek and Kardak in Turkish. However, US mediation efforts prevented the two countries from taking the next step to war. As was the case in 1996, Turkey and Greece were often at the brink of war mostly due to land, air and maritime-related disagreements. 

To prevent the countries from turning on each other, Turkey and Greece must respect each other's red lines and avoid them. If Turkey sends vessels to disputed territories, that may stop friendly communications on Greece’s end. Greece also does not want the Turkish Oil Exploration Company (TPAO) to explore waters west of the 28th meridian, which Turkey claims as per their deal with Libya. Similarly, if Greece attempts to expand its territorial seas from the coast of Aegean Islands or its mainland, Turkey may become hostile. To make tensions worse, military jets have been flying into airspaces beyond each respected red lines. 


Some would credit the present degradation of Greco-Turkish relations, which has a lasting negative sentiment from the latter towards the former from Alexander’s Conquest of Anatolia in 334 BC, and the perpetuation of associated atrocities. In reality, the origins of the Greco-Turkish relationship likely traced to the imperial maneuverings of Catherine the Great in the 1760s, in what is colloquially known as her “Greek Project” - a means of resolving the “Eastern Question” of the interface between European powers and the Ottoman Empire, and for Russia to expand their influence in the Mediterranean, gaining the warm-water ports the Tsars so heavily sought after. Through this “Greek Project”, Catherine desired to retake Constantinople, first achieved by dispatching Russian Admiral Alexey Orlov to the Greek Isles and inspiring a local revolt against the Ottoman Empire during the larger Russo-Turkish War. While this initial outburst of Greek revolutionary sentiment in 1770 failed, it was the first event of note in a three-century continuity of Greco-Turkish conflict. 

During the early 19th century, these revolutionary sentiments galvanized by European influence expressed themselves further through the Filiki Eteria movement (“Society of Friends”). This was a brotherhood of revolutionary patriots who worked to subvert Ottoman domination of Greek culture and foster nationalistic feeling among the Greek people. These efforts eventually culminated in the 1821 Greek War of Independence, led by Greek revolutionary Theodoros Kolokotronis, which lasted eight years and resulted in the creation of the First Hellenic Republic, as well as the subsequent Kingdom of Greece, the first independent Greek states in over four centuries. During the remainder of the 19th century, Greece had a variety of nationalistic continuations of its initial war for independence, with the primary objective of reclaiming Greek territories still under Ottoman subjugation. This included Macedonia and Crete - these conflicts became their most overt during the 1897 Greco-Turkish War and two Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913, all of which derived from nationalist sentiment. 

During the First World War and its immediate aftermath, Greco-Turkish relations were defined by mutual atrocities perpetrated against both the Turkish and Greek people in the form of genocides against ethnic communities in the Anatolia region, resulting in somewhere between 300,000 and one million deaths. Additionally, through a combination of treaties stemming from both the Balkan Wars and the First World War, the extent of Greek territory expanded substantially at the expense of the Ottoman Empire, gaining far greater control of the northern Aegean Sea as a result. These concessions along with generalized support from the Triple Entente bolstered Greek territorial ambition, which led to a 1919 Greek occupation of the territory of Smyrna to quell Turkish nationalism following the partition of the Ottoman Empire - this landing evolved into the larger Greco-Turkish War, which was fought until 1922 and allowed for Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk to consolidate control over Anatolia and eliminate Greek cultural influence. With the formation of an independent, secular Turkey in 1923, relations between the two nations as they are known today were formalized - one of the key resolutions to the Greco-Turkish War was a large population exchange involving the transfer of all Greek Muslims to Turkey and all other religious minorities to Greece, striving to create more culturally homogenous nations for both as a means of mutual ethnic cleansing. 

Following the First World War, the two states experienced a detente, involving the creation of trans-Balkan peace organizations and demilitarization of territories between Greece and Turkey - relations improved to the point that in 1934 Greek President Eleftherios Venizelos nominated Ataturk for the Nobel Peace Prize based on his efforts on improving relations. However, after the Second World War, relations between the two states experienced a deterioration due to multiple geopolitical conflicts and alterations of global power structures. Simultaneously, both Greece and Turkey experienced ideological conflicts between domestic factors supported by the United States and Soviet Union, with both eventually joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1952. Ethnic tensions escalated in 1955 due to the bombing of the Turkish consulate in Greece, resulting in a state-sponsored pogrom in Istanbul dedicated to explicitly removing the Greek minority presence from Turkey. The pogrom established a legacy of cultural hatred - tensions that were also reflected in the emergence of the Cyprus conflict.

Given that after the Second World War the island of Cyprus was functionally divided into Greek and Turkish enclaves, both of whom desired decolonization from the British, the key source of conflict between the two nations was the nature of Cypriot society after such a shift. Greeks favored a doctrine of enosis, or functional absorption of Cyprus into a larger Greek state, while Turks fervently opposed this motion and instead supported a doctrine of Taksim, maintaining Cyprus as an independent state with clear segregation of Greek and Turkish culture. The UN did little to resolve the situation through diplomatic means, and the situation deteriorated through 1958, at which time Greek, Turkish, and British diplomats agreed to a formal independence for Cyprus, designed as separate from either Greek or Turkish sovereign influence. The specific division of power was a Greek Cypriot President (Archbishop Makarios III) and Turkish Vice President (Fazıl Küçük), as well as parliamentary divisions reflecting the 7:3 Greek cultural majority on the island - these were collectively known as the London-Zürich Agreements of 1960. 

By 1963, the political functionality of Cyprus was critically deteriorated, generally perceived by historians as indication that both Greece and Turkey were more concerned with the solidification of their cultural presence on Cyprus than the survival of the island as a sovereign state. Legislative and constitutional disputes gave way to physical violence on December 21, 1963, known as Cyprus’s “Bloody Christmas”, where widespread conflict and dissent resulted in over 500 deaths and the displacement of 25,000 Turkish Cypriots, effectively ending the cooperation of the London-Zürich partnership-Cypriot state. Over the ensuing four years, a variety of unsuccessful peace attempts largely pandering to Greek enosis doctrine were proposed by the United Nations and United States as violence was largely reduced on Cyprus. However, in 1967, a coup d'etat in Greece resulted in the implementation of a military regime with far more nationalistic priorities, aggravating tensions through cultural division in Greece to the extent that domination of Cyprus should be pursued. 

An even more radical junta government was installed in Greek Cyprus in 1974, which provoked a pre-emptive Turkish invasion (protected under the Treaty of Guarantee signed by Greece, Turkey, and the United Kingdom under the 1960 London-Zürich Agreements) to support the independence of Turkish Cypriots, resulting in over 200,000 Cypriot refugees and the collapse of the new Greek junta. Turkey would subsequently continue their offensive beyond that which was legally permitted under the Treaty of Guarantee, taking control of the northern portion of Cyprus as is designated Turkish territory presently - Northern and Southern Cyprus are presently divided by a UN Peacekeeping Force along a demilitarized buffer zone known colloquially as the “Green Line''. This issue of partition still remains unresolved, despite intermittent attempts at formal resolution, often defeated via popular Cyprotian referendum. 

While the issue of Cyprus is generally considered the modern impetus of Greco-Turkish rivalry, other key conflicts define their present relations. Under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, any state is entitled to an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) extending 200 nautical miles from their territorial shores . In these zones, sovereign powers are entitled to uncontested rights to marine resources such as oil and gas, as well as wind power. Key questions of EEZ rights in the Aegean Sea are highly disputed between the two states, with Greece claiming that possession of any islands in the Aegean them functional control over Aegean waterways, while Turkey refuses to recognize the condition of a 200-mile EEZ from any island, including Cyprus. Turkey also disputes the sovereignty of multiple Greek islands, citing that an uninhabited island is a “gray zone” and shouldn’t be entitled to economic privileges - a specific example of such a claim is made by the Turkish government towards the Greek island of Imia (Kardak in Turkey), which in 1995 was subject to a diplomatic crisis following a naval accident and ensuing claims of disputing jurisdiction. Questions of overlapping airspace and militarization of islands are also sources of contention, mainly resulting from disputing interpretations of the 1923’s Treaty of Lausanne (ending the Russo-Turkish War) and 1947’s Treaty of Paris (addressing the postwar division of Fascist Italy and Balkan powers). 

In 2022, Erdoğan took the official stance that Greece should “avoid dreams, acts and statements that will result in regret”, apparently insinuating that a Greek refusal to demilitarize Aegean Islands would result in punitive measures by the Turkish state, also stating that the Turkish military would “come at night” to Greek territory. 

An additional consideration is conflict over energy, initiated by Shell’s identification of rich hydrocarbon reserves in the Aegean Seabed and Eastern Mediterranean in 2003. The Mediterranean nations of Europe have repeatedly worked to establish comprehensive frameworks for the production and transportation of natural gas resources. This production had been primarily led by Greece and Cyprus and deliberately excluding Turkish influence, despite President Erdoğan’s desire to maintain a more powerful security and energy presence in the region. Turkey now pursues an official policy of mavi vatan, or “blue homeland”, through which it claims the entirety of the continental shelf extending 200 nautical miles from its coastline into the Mediterranean, Aegean, and Black Seas, as well as claiming territory based on the coastline of Northern Cyprus - such claims are denounced as illegitimate by Greece and Cyprus. This approach was bolstered through the 2019 Libya-Turkey Maritime Deal, which established an EEZ for Turkey extending from the Turkish to Mediterranean shore. Consecutively, Greece and Egypt designed a similar deal that diplomatically nullified recognition of the Libyan-Turkish arrangement. 

The issue of Greco-Turkish relations is further complicated through the influence of the European Union. Turkey unsuccessfully sought membership in the European Union from 2005 to 2019, at which time the latter formally closed negotiations crediting the “strong presidency” installed in Turkey under Erdoğan in 2017, a violation of the Copenhagen criteria that evaluate the democratic qualifications of an EU member state. The EU has repeatedly sided against Turkey in regards to their incursions in the Cyprotian EEZ, but cooperates with Turkey on the basis of their critical position in regulating immigration into the Schengen Area of Continental Europe. Due to their position at the junction of the Mediterranean, Middle East, and the Black Sea, Turkey holds the highest refugee population in the world (stemming primarily from the Syrian Civil War and ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan) and functionally regulates the flow of these migrants into Europe. In 2016, Turkey signed a deal with the EU reflecting a commitment of the former to prevent the travel of migrants towards the Greek islands, as well as taking back all future illegal migrants found in Greece, a deal cited by organizations such as Amnesty International as “unethical” in that it controlled the lives of migrants based on financial incentives from the EU. However, the deal represented some degree of progress in the Greco-Turkish relationship.

Over the past three decades, positive relations between Greece and Turkey were defined by instances of “earthquake diplomacy”, as was seen during the 2020 Izmir earthquake and 2023 Turkey-Syria earthquakes, where Greek diplomats offered condolences and humanitarian aid to the Turkish government and people. In 2023, relations between the two states unexpectedly and drastically improved through an agreement between President Erdoğan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, seen by many as an indication of economic necessity for both countries by promoting cooperation and lessening Western perceptions of perpetual conflict in the region. The results will create mutually beneficial outcomes. No further developments have occurred since the December 2023 meeting. 

Tried Policy 

Numerous methods for reconciliation between Greece and Turkey have been employed over the past couple of decades. One recurring form of diplomacy comes post-natural disasters, specifically earthquakes. In 1999, an earthquake struck in the Marmara region, affecting both Greece and Turkey. This shared struggle improved bilateral relations, opening many opportunities for cooperation between the governments. Each country sent rescue teams to each other to save civilians from the rubble and destruction. Later, the commander of the Greek navy traveled to Turkey to tour the towns destroyed and called for peace between the countries.  Greek and Turkish business leaders worked to revive a cooperation council which had previously been halted due to disagreements. As part of this wave of diplomacy, Greece made a shocking call to no longer block Turkey’s application from joining the European Union. This pattern was seen once again very recently in 2023, when a devastating magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck the south of Turkey. Athens immediately dispatched aid, including their special EMAK unit. However, these waves of diplomacy have typically been short-lived, with no 

lasting change in the country’s attitude towards one another. 

In 2010, a bilateral platform for dialogue, or the High-Level Cooperation Council (HLCC) was established, in order to help to double bilateral trade between the countries. Additionally, both countries' investments in transportation, information technology, agriculture, tourism, and others. have increased. Four sessions of the HLCC were held between 2010-2016, followed by a hiatus of 7 years prior to the most recent meeting in 2023. After years of high tensions, the Greek and Turkish governments opened up to de-escalation.  

A. Current Stances

The historical tension between Greece and Turkey have stemmed from a matrix of causes, including maritime sovereignty, natural gas exploration, and the status of Cyprus. Each of the escalations in recent years brought to light an acute disagreement, but the provocations only ballooned because of deeper-rooted diplomatic concerns. Turkey, whose prospects for EU accession are frozen (some argue the prospect is little more than a farce in the first place), has long pointed to Western diplomacy’s slighting, exclusion, and caging of the country; president Erdogan stated in September that the EU was “making efforts to sever ties with Turkey.” This sentiment flared when the Republic of Cyprus, Egypt, Israel and Greece planned to build a pipeline from the Eastern Mediterranean to Europe, hitting Greece but bypassing Turkey. When natural gas reserves were discovered off the coast of Cyprus, Ankar leveraged its claims to the Northern portion of the island and surrounding waters to send exploration teams and demand inclusion in any developments of a pipeline to Europe.

This month’s cooperative measure, then, does not resolve a single conflict; rather, it represents an opportunity for Turkey to mend relations with the West more generally. The declaration doesn’t resolve issues regarding maritime borders or airspace violations, only indicates that both countries will work these issues out diplomatically, avoiding provocations or escalation. In the words of Angelos Syrigos, a Greek Parliament member, “there will be a discussion now on the rules of the future discussion.” The meeting was a very preliminary step that sets the tone for resolution down the line.

The agreement’s main draw for Greece is the potential for better-controlled migration through cooperation between the countries’ coast guards. During the 2015 migrant crisis, crossing from Turkey to Greek islands was a main route for refugees, so Greece has a vested interest in their joint coordination and management of the waters.

It should be noted that, come future discussions or crises on hot-button issues like migration, tensions could quickly rise again. Conservative ex-prime minister Antonis Samaras called Greek President Recep Erdogan a “pirate” and expressed extreme skepticism of the situation: “Violations had also almost been eliminated when I was prime minister… But this did not hinder Turkey from coming back and escalating them.”

Regardless, the international outlook is overwhelmingly positive. The agreement is a stark break from past clashes; just last year, for instance, Erdogan, upset that the Greek Prime Minister attempted to block the sale of U.S. F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, said the PM “no longer exists” for him. This shift will hopefully allow the countries to work through specifics in dialogue rather than mock dogfights and insult exchanges.

Although the U.S., especially during the Clinton administration, had arbitrated talks between Turkey and Greece, Washington had relatively low involvement in the December 7th agreement. Biden expressed his support for the “recent constructive steps” between the countries.

Policy Problem

Few things could have been more certain than the perennial rivalry between Greece and Turkey.

Nevertheless, a landmark visit by Turkish President Erdogan to Greece to meet his counterpart Mitostakis has kindled flames of hope amidst reciprocal, historical calls for escalation.

The flamboyant concurrence of Turkey and Greece seems too good to be true, considering the years of acrimony inherent in the relationship of the eastern Mediterranean neighbors. Last year, Erdogan had decreed that Mitsotakis “does not exist” for him after accusing the Greek premier of lobbying the United States Congress to ban arms sales to Turkey. Moreover, on Erdogan’s last trip to Greece in 2017, he stunned his Greek counterpart by suggesting that an international treaty defining the two countries’ modern borders should be revised.

Yet, the same Erdogan appeared relaxed and smiling in a televised exchange with his Greek counterparts, President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and Prime Minister Mitsotakis. 

Greek television also showed Mitsotakis and Erdogan engaged in an unusually cordial handshake before ascending the steps of the prime minister’s mansion for talks.

The meeting between Mitsotakis and Erdogan lasted much longer than anticipated, and Mitsotakis addressed Erdogan as “Dear Tayyip.” Erdogan said he expected to receive Mitsotakis in Ankara. The NATO allies are now keen to double bilateral trade volume to $10 billion from $5 billion, while Erdogan maintained that both countries could benefit from annual high-level meetings.

“Geography and history have dictated that we live in the same neighborhood... However, I feel a historical responsibility to utilize this opportunity to bring the two states side-by-side, just as our borders are,” Mitsotakis said.

Greece and Turkey have long been at odds over issues including where their continental shelves start and end, energy resources, flights over the Aegean Sea, and the ethnically partitioned island of Cyprus.

It is not difficult to unravel the ulterior motives of the two leaders supposedly in bonhomie. In so doing, we unearth the veneer of certainty in the peace that a panoply of fifteen agreements have brokered. Nevertheless, Turkey and Greece have much to gain from a peaceful coexistence. 

Ankara has been battered by years of sky-high inflation, with prices nearly 50% higher in June compared to the year before, as per official data released earlier this year. Independent economists at the Inflation Research Group say the figure is far higher at more than 100%. 

“Once I get money, I am out of pocket,” a father of three from Istanbul told Euronews, claiming he is left with nothing after paying his rent and bills. 

“I am not eating. Sometimes I write off a debt to the grocery store,” he added. 

The man points out that the 1550 lira (€52) he receives in state support does not cover his family’s food bill, which he estimated at nearly 2500 lira (€84) monthly. 

Last week, the Confederation of Turkish Labour Unions (Türk-İş) reported that the hunger line– the minimum amount a family of four has to spend to feed themselves – is now more than the minimum wage. That is despite the government raising the minimum wage by 34% in July.

Turkey has been seeking an EU membership and the concomitant investments that will follow suit to remedy this sordid state of affairs. Whilst concerns about human rights violations and deficits in the rule of law are significant roadblocks to Ankara joining the EU, a vital component of that also entails forging better ties with rival Greece. 

According to Ahmet Kasim Han, a professor of international relations at Beykoz University in Istanbul. “Turkey cannot afford to have a further point of tension with the West” because of its domestic economic difficulties, he said. “And Greece is presenting a great window of opportunity in that sense.”

Turkey also wants to safeguard its interests in the eastern Mediterranean, an essential route for natural gas to Europe that borders other important regional players like Israel and Egypt. That is particularly critical given Turkey’s significantly strained relations with Israel over the war in Gaza.

For Greece, lowering tensions in the Aegean Sea — periodically expressed in mock dogfights by Greek and Turkish jets and in navy frigates’ shadowing each other — can reduce the possibility of an incident that could escalate into a catastrophic military confrontation. 

Greece’s defense expenditure soared to $8.4 billion in 2022 from $5 billion in 2019, an astonishing increase of over 60 percent. Athens is refurbishing and buying new weapons, warplanes, and ships, including eighteen French Rafale fighter jets, US anti-submarine MH-60 helicopters, and German torpedoes. The army is recruiting more men for longer, and Athens plans to construct new and expanded military bases, including one used by US and NATO forces at Souda Bay in Crete. Mending ties with Ankara could end Athens’ unsustainable military expenditure.

Furthermore, amidst incessant calls from Greece that Turkey is wielding migration as an instrument to advance its political interests, this new period of detente between traditional foes can also attenuate migration-related discord through closer cooperation between the country’s coast guards. Greece is one of Europe’s biggest gateways for migrants arriving through Turkey. In March 2020, Erdogan provoked a crisis at the countries’ shared land border by declaring that the gateway to Europe was open for migrants. Athens has also accused Ankara of disregarding smuggling boats leaving its shores, while Ankara has condemned Athens for illegal pushbacks of migrants, which it denies. Although arrivals from Turkey into Greece have decreased significantly, Greece is still mindful of the 2015-2016 crisis that overwhelmed its resources, particularly on a handful of Greek islands near the Turkish coast, when more than one million migrants streamed to the country.

Greek analysts broadly herald the pact as a boon for Greece.

Constantinos Filis, the director of the Institute of Global Affairs at the American College of Greece, said it was noteworthy to provide a road map for actions to be taken and those to be avoided. “It is clear that both sides are willing to put behind them the bad moments of the recent past but also to set aside what separates them for the time being,” he said.

At ground zero, tangible progress is being made. On Thursday, Greece re-established an automatic visa system for Turkish nationals to visit ten islands.

Mitsotakis said meetings would continue, and a further step in the rejuvenated bilateral dialogue could be coming closer to a deal to demarcate continental shelves and related economic exploitation zones (EEZ) - when conditions allow.

An offshore EEZ could be a precursor to an oil or gas exploration alliance. Striking an upbeat tone, Erdogan said Turkey and Greece should focus on the positives and less on the negatives.” It will be much more beneficial for the future if we look at things from a glass-half-full perspective,” Erdogan had said in correspondence with Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou.

However, a prudential consideration entails discerning that this thaw period is contingent on the favorable reactions from the EU and the success of further deliberations that will be held on focal points of dissension. An arbitrator is the need of the hour with the level of complexity that looms large over the conflict. Consider, for example, delimitation agreements that need to be drafted for over 2400 islands scattered across the Aegean Sea (preponderantly of Greece). 

The US, once an actively engaged peacekeeper in the region, is no longer so invested. When US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to the region in 2020, he snubbed Turkish officials on two separate occasions: in September, he visited the Republic of Cyprus after announcing a partial lifting of a 33-year US arms embargo on Nicosia, and in November, he met the Greek Orthodox patriarch in Istanbul but no Turkish officials.

Pompeo also used his final NATO meeting to criticize Turkey over the S-400s sharply – an issue that remains a thorn in U.S.-Turkey relations under President Biden. It is not clear Washington will ever reclaim this role amid a host of other pressing issues in its relations with Ankara; this has only been exacerbated by discrepancies in their approaches to the war in Gaza. 

EU leaders are trying to fill US shoes with more limited leverage than they once had, as Turkey’s EU accession prospects have dwindled for over two decades. Mutual North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) membership reduces the chance of war vis Turkey. However, Ankara’s relations within the alliance (just as the case is with the USA) are at an all-time low due to its 2017 purchase of Russian S-400 missiles.

Lately, and particularly following the events of 2019, Ankara has been isolated as France and other nations, including the United Arab Emirates, have lined up behind Greece. Its recent efforts to mend ties with regional rival Egypt have yet to bear fruit. In the meantime, its exclusion from hydrocarbon development consortia gives it every incentive to obstruct related projects.

In contrast, Athens’ diplomatic and strategic alliance give it less incentive to seek compromise with Turkey. However, the recent visit by Erdogan is said to have been sparked by Mitosakis’s assistance to Ankara in alleviating the suffering caused by concurrent 7.8- and 7.5-magnitude earthquakes in southern Turkey, near the northern border of Syria, in February 2023.

The most significant incentive for Turkey to mend ties with Greece is the economic exigencies that plague the country. It desperately needs monetary injections from promoters in the West, the Middle East, and even Greece. 

The Turkey of today does not wield the influence it did in the early 2000s; its support on the global stage is waning, and so is the third trimester of Erdogan’s at home. The world hopes that a mutual need for stability and security will continue to take precedence over age-old animosity.

Policy Options

President Erdoğan has proposed a two-state solution, where both sides of Cyprus would obtain sovereign status. In addition to delineating borders, this would require establishing friendly relations between the countries, mainly in regards to displaced populations. As the countries grapple with agricultural and economic challenges, increasing numbers of people have been driven by hunger, conflict, and environmental crises to seek refuge in countries already facing high prices and insecurity. Turkey and Greece, strategically positioned along migration routes to Europe, will be key determinants in migration flows over coming years. Immigration has already been extremely divisive in Europe, and given Greece and Turkey’s location at the EU’s most sensitive external border, the countries’ negotiations of future refugee flows will have global consequences. 

The accord also underscores the imperative for enhanced NATO cooperation in the Mediterranean. As two long standing NATO allies with a history of regional disputes, their commitment to mend ties sends a positive signal for broader alliance objectives. The agreement, emphasizing good neighborly relations, open communication channels, and joint efforts to alleviate military tensions, aligns with NATO’s core principles of collective defense and conflict resolution. As an alliance constituting over 30 nations, inter-NATO relations are not always positive. The current agreement between the countries sets the stage not only for the refugee challenge but as a model within the democratic and dialogue-based NATO framework.


Despite historical grievances, the summit on December 7th provides hope for future cooperation and accord. Further meetings may focus on actionable items to improve relations, such as settling the disputes regarding trade, Exclusive Economic Zones, and militarization in the Aegean. However, it is of course likely that both countries relapse into poor relations, high tensions, and a lack of seeing eye-to-eye.  


The Institute for Youth in Policy wishes to acknowledge Michelle Liou, [Policy Director], Nolan Ezzet and other contributors for developing and maintaining the Policy Department within the Institute.


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Iniya Karimanal

Foreign Policy Analyst

Iniya is a student at Princeton High School and Stanford Online High School. She spends most of her weekends at debate tournaments arguing various policy-related topics.

Rusmiya Aqid

Policy Analyst

Rusmiya is a freshman at the University of Rochester. She is interested in international development and policy, and draws inspiration from social entrepreneurs like Runa Khan.

Trevor Darr

Foreign Policy Analyst

Trevor Darr is a senior in the International Baccalaureate program in Virginia Beach. Trevor is interested in the intersection of comparative politics, philosophy, and astrophysics, and typically focuses his research on the prevalence of imperialist power structures in present and future global diplomacy; he has a penchant for the avant-garde.

Lucas Bricca

Foreign Policy Analyst

Sanjay Karthikeyan

Lead Analyst, Foreign Policy

Sanjay Karthikeyan is a high school senior based in Singapore and the Co-Founder and CEO of GovMetrix, a youth-led, solution-oriented organization that strives to solve the world’s most pressing problems through collaboration, incisive analysis, and candid discourse.

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