Binali Yildirim, Speaker of Turkey’s Grand National Assembly has said the country’s aim is to “boost friendship” with Greece and “limit hostility.”
Speaking to reporters in Istanbul during a ceremony marking the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey after World War One, Yildirim noted that the two countries have a common history and culture despite their differences, particularly in the Aegean.
“Greece and Turkey are two neighboring countries,” he said. “And if we have certain differences in the Aegean Sea, we also share the same sea, the same climate.”
Yildirim’s comments came ahead of an official visit to Turkey by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
Tsipras is to have talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Tuesday before traveling to Istanbul on Wednesday where he is to meet Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios.
Also, Tsipras is expected to become the first Greek Prime Minister since 1933 to visit the Halki Orthodox Seminary near Istanbul.
Yildirim said Tsipras would be welcomed with “Turkish hospitality.”
“Mr Tsipras is most welcome, it is good that he is coming… We will do whatever is necessary to offer good Turkish hospitality,” he said.