The visit of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to Turkey has highlighted the fact that relations between Turkey and Greece, which have had their ups and very downs, are now on the upswing and should remain so in the future.
Turkey could have always been the good-hearted big brother for Greece that cared for and cherished its sibling, but that has not happened because some people on both sides of the Aegean preferred to highlight old enmities and rivalries between the two countries, fanning the enmity.
Now we have administrations in Ankara and Athens that see that there is another side to the coin and the prospects of turning the Aegean basin into a place of peace, tranquility and security is possible in the not too distant future.Turkey has shown its goodwill by trying to help Greece in every way possible while the Greek people suffer from the massive economic crisis that brought the radical government of Tsipras into power. The Greek people, who are known as Christian Orthodox, went as far as to opt for Tsipras, a man who describes himself as an atheist. Turkey did not exploit the situation in Greece while its neighbors suffered hard times. This was appreciated by the Greek people and their government.
The Greeks had to overcome the psychological barrier and stop perceiving Turkey as a threat; as a giant ready to swallow up Greece and thus cannot be a friend. It seems under Tsipras they are overcoming several psychological barriers and one is the distrust of Turkey.
They are lucky because on this side of the Aegean there are two leaders, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who have peaceful intentions and have displayed this over and over again in the past decade.
The joint press conference by Davutoğlu and Tsipras showed that there is a positive atmosphere in the air and that the two sides are full of goodwill in trying to solve the outstanding issues between them. The fact that the Cyprus issue, which has poisoned our relations, seems to be on the way to a solution and is finally having a positive impact on relations.
The positive atmosphere will help build confidence, help sides to fight terrorism more effectively and cope with the economic difficulties that the world economies are going through.
The fact that Tsipras has been elected again after his surprise first-time win in the parliamentary elections and the fact that Davutoğlu won a landslide victory in the parliamentary elections has opened the way for an environment where sides can actually deliver on their promises. Despite this they should both be aware that there will always be those on both sides of the Aegean who will try to sabotage this positive atmosphere. In the past they were strong and effective, now they are weak but still have the potential to spoil things. There were good people in Athens who made an effort to build ties with Turkey in the past and were shot down by the Greek conservatives. Now Tsipras is in a better position to deliver.
Turkey and Greece have realized that they are both in the same boat regarding the Syrian refugee issue and will thus move together as victims of the sluggish indecision attitude of the European Union. This is a strong point that bonds us closer together as brothers of different religions and beliefs on the two sides of the Aegean Sea.