Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Türkiye and Greece can resolve any issue through dialogue based on mutual goodwill.
"Greece is our neighbor, and we will always be neighbors. We share the same geography and the same sea. We breathe the same air. Historically, we are intertwined," he said in his interview for the Greek newspaper Kathimerini, before he visits Greece on Dec.7.
Reminding that he spoke about a "new page" and the principle of "win-win" in Türkiye-Greece relations, Erdogan said the "win-win" approach is already at the core of Türkiye's approach to international relations and diplomacy.
"If conflicts are approached through dialogue and with ease, and if common ground is found, everyone benefits. We have recently gained good momentum in shaping our relationship with Greece in this context."
The dialogue channels are open and operational at every level, he added.
"We have the will to develop cooperation in many important areas for our countries and region based on mutual trust. Now, both sides are responsible for strengthening, institutionalizing, and advancing this understanding. I believe that Mr. (Kyriakos) Mitsotakis shares the same determination."
Erdogan said this shared intention would be officially recorded with full transparency through the declaration on friendly relations and good neighborliness, which he planned to sign during his visit to Athens on Dec. 7.
He emphasized Türkiye has never viewed its neighbor Greece as an enemy, adding: "Like all countries, we need friends, not enemies. I frequently say that we believe we have no problems with our neighbors, especially Greece, that cannot be overcome."
President Erdogan believes Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis can see Türkiye's sincere desire to overcome the issues with Greece and advance the relationship.
President Erdogan noted that he is pleased to observe a similar approach from Mitsotakis.
"...I will tell him that Kyriakos, my friend, as long as you do not threaten us, we will not threaten you. Let's strengthen the trust between our two countries."
"Let's enhance bilateral cooperation in every field, including economy, trade, transportation, energy, health, technology, education, and youth."
"Whether it's the issues in the Aegean, joint efforts against irregular migration, ongoing problems of the Turkish minority in Greece, there is no problem that we cannot solve through dialogue based on mutual goodwill."
"There are many interconnected problems that need to be solved in addition to the continental shelf. We have to address them comprehensively," he said."
"When we go to international courts, we should not leave any issues behind. But above all, we must courageously discuss all our problems and guide our public opinions correctly."
- 'Greece is not enemy of Türkiye but a valuable NATO member'
Erdogan responded to a question about his statement, "We may come one night suddenly," which has been widely reported in the Greek media."We said we may come one night suddenly against terrorist elements threatening our country's security, and we did what was necessary."
"The response those who reach out to our territorial integrity, unity, and solidarity receive from us has always been and will always be the same."
Stressing that Greece is not an enemy of Türkiye but a valuable NATO member, Erdogan said: "Moreover, we are neighbors, and we will remain neighbors. We should mutually respect each other's rights and vital interests."
"We want to advance our relations on the basis of mutual understanding and live in peace in this geography. We have repeatedly proven that we do not say this just for the sake of words when we express it. Western media is making efforts to distort these words."
- Cooperation, opportunities in the Mediterranean
Pointing out the rich natural resources in the Mediterranean and Aegean, Erodgan said ensuring and preserving energy security has become a strategically essential issue in the current international order.
Erdogan emphasized the potential for collaboration and opportunities in the Mediterranean, stating leveraging such cooperation potential could contribute to both the energy security of regional countries and the resolution of political issues.
Erdogan expressed concern that attempting to politically exploit the potential in this region could pose a risk of not being able to utilize these resources.
Türkiye prefers cooperation and is ready for it, he said.
"That is why I previously proposed organizing two comprehensive conferences for opportunities in the Eastern Mediterranean. Unfortunately, the EU remained silent on this matter."
"Similarly, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus proposed the joint operation and revenue sharing of reserves on the island until a comprehensive solution is reached, and we support this proposal."
"While other countries in the region are progressing in this direction, why can't the two sides on the (Cyprus) island collaborate? There are also many areas in the Aegean where we can cooperate. Everything is for the peace and prosperity of our peoples and future generations."
Regarding the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque and the reopening of the Heybeliada Seminary, Erdogan said Hagia Sophia mosque will continue to remain open to visitors of all religions and beliefs as a symbol of peace and tolerance.
He furthermore said that "the structural integrity of the Hagia Sophia Mosque will not be materially or spiritually damaged and that the artworks and all forms of art will not be diminished but protected."
The reopening of the Heybeliada Seminary can only be possible through comprehensive legislative changes, he added.
- Irregular migration
Stating that irregular migration is a shared challenge for countries and requires joint efforts, Erdogan said: "Naturally, we continue our intensive efforts as a country in the fight against irregular migration."
President Erdogan emphasized the importance of the European Union (EU) supporting Türkiye in this regard, stating that, in the end, it is essential to take joint steps to prevent migration from the source and to ensure equal burden and responsibility sharing.
"We have always been open to sincere cooperation on this issue, and we continue to be."
- 'Türkiye defending fundamental values of Western society in Gaza'
Reminding that Türkiye joined NATO with Greece 71 years ago, Erdogan stressed that being Western or European is not determined by EU membership criteria.
Within the framework of its relations dating back to 1963, Türkiye is an EU candidate and in a customs union with the EU, he said.
Türkiye shares a broad common ground with EU and NATO member countries in terms of its democratic structure and the values it upholds, he added.
"We have always been the voice of fairness, justice, and conscience in international relations. Guided by this understanding of international developments, our main goal is to stand on the right side of history."
President Erdogan emphasized that Türkiye's reaction to the injustices and inhumane treatment suffered by the Palestinian people is a natural consequence of its commitment to this cause.
Türkiye fulfilling its moral responsibility in the context of the Israel-Palestine conflict cannot be questioned by whether it belongs to the West or not, he said.
President Erdogan pointed out that by opposing Israel's "genocide" in Gaza, Türkiye is also defending the fundamental values of Western society.
Basic rights of people of all ages are being violated in Gaza, he reminded.
"The silent disregard for the deliberate destruction of human rights, the systematic confiscation of people's property by ignoring their ownership rights, and the deprivation of Palestinians' rights to determine their own futures - where do these actions stand in the values of Western civilization?"
"Is the bombing of hospitals, schools, refugee camps, marketplaces, and the killing of civilians consistent with Western values?"
"...Are the countries intentionally remaining silent to all these issues, or is Türkiye more aligned with Western values?"