Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday said his visit next month to Ankara for talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan aims to take a burgeoning rapprochement a step further, saying an improvement in bilateral relations over the past year has yielded tangible results.

Speaking during a wide-ranging television news interview, Mitsotakis cited three main benefits so far, namely, a halt to Turkish air force violations of Greek airspace in the past 12 months; significantly reduced flows of irregular migrants attempting to enter Greece from the east, and, in a “nod” to a “positive agenda” promoted by both sides: Athens’ institution of an express seven-day visa process for Turkish citizens wishing to visit 10 eastern Aegean islands.

The Greek leader also said important bilateral economic agreements are being signed with Ankara, all of which are creating a “climate of peaceful co-existence”.

Appearing in an interview taped in his office and aired on the prime-time newscast of Skai TV, Mitsotakis said differences, including complex issues, remain.

“For instance, will Greece back away, even though it decided to proceed, from exercising its sovereign right to declare underwater marine parks around Greek islands? Obviously, we’ll proceed. And Turkey will have its views. We’ll disagree over critical issues, but that doesn’t mean we won’t talk; that we won’t recognize an improvement in relations and that we won’t always try to build on the positive, instead of only focusing on the negative and our disagreements, which do exist. I don’t expect Turkey to change its policy, nor does Turkey, I imagine, expect me to alter (Greece’s) policy from one moment to the next,” he said.

The visit by Mitsotakis at the head of an official Greek government delegation comes after a high-profile visit by the powerful Turkish leader to Athens in early December last year. Bilateral relations thawed in 2023 after nearly three years of frigid and often tense relations between the two governments – often punctuated by revisionist, threatening and belligerent statements aimed at Greece by top Turkish ministers, and on occasions by Erdogan himself.