Turkey’s Erdogan arrives in Greece for two-day visit

The trip, the first by a Turkish president since 1952, is aimed at boosting ties despite long-standing border disputes.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan visits Greece
The Turkish president inspects a guard of honour during a welcome ceremony in Athens [Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters]

Athens, Greece – Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan met his Greek counterpart, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, in Athens on Thursday, marking the first time a Turkish president has visited Greece since 1952.

Erdogan’s two-day trip to Greece has been billed as a landmark visit that could see the two countries boost relations despite several long-standing disagreements.

The Turkish leader came to Greece as prime minister in 2010, and several other Turkish officials have visited the country in recent years.

Greek officials expressed concern leading up to Erdogan’s visit after the Turkish president said he hoped for an “update” of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which mapped out the current borders between the two countries.

WATCH: Turkey’s Erdogan arrives in Greece for two-day visit

Among the issues expected to be discussed are economic relations, security and the flow of refugees and migrants from Turkey to Greek islands.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras described the visit as “a chance to take bold steps forward”.

‘Low expectations’

Thanos Dokos, director of the Athens-based Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy think-tank, said he did not expect meaningful political progress between the two Mediterranean countries.

“There is a systematic dialogue between the two countries, which hasn’t solved any of the problems, but there are channels of communication and frequent contact,” Dokos told Al Jazeera.


“I have low expectations, neither side is prepared to make serious discussion of the issues,” he added, referring to past disputes over Cyprus and the Aegean Islands. “This is more of public relations exercise and photo opportunity.”

Although he did not expect political dialogue over these issues, Dokos added that he expects economic memorandums of understanding to be signed.

The Greek government has banned protests in central Athens for the duration of Erdogan’s visit, although protests are scheduled to take place in the city on Thursday evening. Some 2,800 police officers have been deployed in the Greek capital, according to the local daily Ekathimerini.

Seraphim Seferiades, a politics professor at Panteion University in Athens, said the visit is unlikely to go over well with left-wing critics and Kurdish residents in Greece. “I don’t really think it will make any important differences [between Greece and Turkey],” he told Al Jazeera.

“But there are problems in Turkey right now – that’s a fact,” he said, referring to a political crackdown that followed a failed coup attempt during the summer of 2016.

Source: Al Jazeera