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    Turkey lauds ‘positive atmosphere’ in talks with Greece

    Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Wednesday hailed his country’s ongoing talks with Greece, and said his Greek counterpart would visit Turkey on April 14.

    The latest round of consultative talks between Turkey and Greece were held in a very positive atmosphere, said Cavusoglu at a joint press conference with his Kazakh counterpart Mukhtar Tleuberdi.

    Noting that the consultative talks between Turkey and Greece are addressing the issues regarding disagreement in the Aegean and aims to find a joint solution, he said it would not be a “realistic approach” to expect a solution in a single meeting.

    Cavusoglu said there is a mechanism of political consultations between the foreign ministries of both countries, adding that more extensive political consultations are being held after Tuesday’s consultative meeting.

    “Turkey has clearly displayed its position on the matter of the Eastern Mediterranean, both at the table and on the ground. We call for fair sharing in the Eastern Mediterranean,” the Turkish foreign minister said.

    He also recalled Turkey’s bid for a multilateral conference on the Eastern Mediterranean, but said there was no response from the EU.

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    Turkish-Greek talks

    Turkey and Greece held the 62nd round of talks in the Greek capital Athens on Tuesday.

    The consultative talks are focused on resolving bilateral disputes in the Aegean and Mediterranean seas, including achieving fair and equitable settlements to issues in the Aegean that began in 2002.

    The previous round of talks was held in Istanbul on Jan. 25, which marked the first direct talks between the two countries in nearly five years after Athens suspended them following the 60th round in March 2016.

    Bilateral talks continued in the form of political consultations but did not return to the exploratory framework.

    Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected maritime boundary claims by Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, stressing that their excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.

    Ankara sent several drillships last year to explore energy in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting its rights in the region as well as those of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

    Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed that Ankara is in favor of resolving outstanding problems in the region through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue, and negotiations.

    Noting that Turkey will continue holding discussions with Greece as it does with all other countries, Cavusoglu said his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias, which he also described as a personal friend, would visit Turkey on April 14.

    Underlining that all issues between the two countries are to be addressed in Ankara during Dendias’ visit, Cavusoglu said he would visit Greece afterward.

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    4th High-Level Strategic Council Summit

    Cavusoglu also commemorated the 30th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s independence and said they discussed mutual events to be held to mark the 30th anniversary of the country’s independence.

    He stated that preparations for the 4th High-Level Strategic Council Summit between the two countries began as they held a meeting of the Joint Strategic Planning, which was established within the scope of the summit.

    “There are goals set by our leaders before. We need to work harder to reach the [trade volume] target of $5 billion first, and then $10 billion,” the Turkish minister said.

    Speaking about trade, economy, transport, security, defense industry and consulate matters, Cavusoglu said Turkey and Kazakhstan began efforts on updating some agreements between the two countries, and that approximately 20 documents are planned to be signed at the summit.

    “The name change of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States [Turkic Council] is on the agenda […] we support the name change,” he said, adding there would be an informal meeting of leaders of Turkic Council on March 31.

    “By the end of this year, the official summit of Turkic Council will take place in Turkey and we will take over the presidency from brotherly country Azerbaijan, which we could not do due to the pandemic,” he added.

    The Turkish foreign minister also expressed his country’s desire to further enhance bilateral relations and aims to strengthen its regional initiatives.

    Cavusoglu noted that it would be beneficial to increase cooperation in other organizations such as the Economic Cooperation Organization and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

    For his part, Tleuberdi also expressed his country’s goal to increase its trade volume with Turkey to $10 billion.

    “Kazakh-Turkish cooperation got stronger day by day and reached the level of strategic partnership. It is a historical fact that Kazakhstan’s founding President Nursultan Nazarbayev and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan played a special role in the formation of the strategic partnership,” he said.

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