Greek, Turkish leaders speak after months of tension

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) – Leaders from Greece and Turkey spoke on the phone on Friday, the prime minister’s office said after months of mounting tension between the two countries.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan focused on the consequences of the corona virus pandemic and issues related to border reopening and tourist visits after the end of the virus-caused closings, Mitsotakis’ office said.

The two “agreed to keep bilateral communication channels open,” it said in a statement.

Tensions between the two neighbors and NATO allies have been high in recent months. Greece has accused Turkey of using migrants to pressure Greece after Ankara declared in late February that Turkey’s borders were open to the European Union for all those who wanted to cross.

Thousands of migrants gathered at the Turkish border with Greece and demanded to enter. Similar scenes did not take place on the Turkish border with EU member Bulgaria.

Greece and Turkey are also at odds with the oil and gas exploration rights in the Mediterranean and with territorial issues in the Aegean that divide the two countries. The two have come to the brink of war three times since the mid-1970s.

According to the Athens official with knowledge of the discussions, the two leaders did not discuss anything regarding the disputes, but agreed that the level of tension was too high and that direct communication at the highest level would be and should continue to be useful.

Discussions focused on wider discussions within the EU on the access of third-country nationals when borders are open to tourists. The official said that in principle Greece has no objection to the inclusion of Turkey in the list of countries that would have access.

The official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the details of the call, spoke on condition of anonymity.

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