(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
ATHENS - Tayyip Erdogan will travel to Greece on Dec. 7-8, Greek sources said on Friday, in the first visit by a Turkish president in decades that have seen ties at times severely strained over issues from Aegean Sea rights to ethnically-split Cyprus.
Erdogan is expected to meet his Greek counterpart and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and discuss bilateral relations, security issues and the refugee crisis, following a 2016 EU-Ankara deal aimed at reducing migrant flows to Europe.He is also expected to visit Thrace in northern Greece, where there is a Muslim minority.
Erdogan last visited fellow NAT member Greece in 2010 in his capacity as prime minister. His visit next week will be the first by a Turkish president to Greece in 65 years.
Greece and Turkey, NATO allies, came to the brink of war in 1996 over the ownership of uninhabited Aegean islets.
Relations have improved since then but they are still at odds over issues from territorial disputes to Cyprus, which remains divided between Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities living on either side of a UN-monitored ceasefire line.
Eight Turkish soldiers commandeered a helicopter and flew it to northern Greece as a failed coup unfolded against Erdogan between July 15 and 16, 2016. Turkey has repeatedly demanded Greece hand them over but Greece's highest court has rejected their extradition.
Greek police on Tuesday arrested nine Turkish citizens who were later charged with terrorism-related offenses. They are accused of hoarding explosives and of links to an outlawed militant organization responsible for suicide bombings in Turkey. They have denied any wrongdoing.