Relations between Turkey and its historical foes, Greece and Armenia, have long been characterized by animosity. However, the twin earthquakes that occurred in Turkey and Syria on Feb. 6, leaving tens of thousands dead and causing widespread destruction, have prompted an outpouring of solidarity from Athens and Yerevan.
Turkish political analyst Talha Kose believes that this expression of support could lead to diplomatic breakthroughs between the two countries. He commented, “The high levels of solidarity we’ve seen from both Greece and Armenia could have a positive impact on the diplomatic tracks with both countries. This has been a painful experience for Turkey, but it may serve to foster a more positive atmosphere and a new era of understanding.”
Greece was one of the first countries to send aid-laden planes to the quake-hit region, and a 35-member team of Greek volunteers arrived in Turkey’s Kahramanmaras province to assist with search-and-rescue efforts. Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias also visited Turkey’s quake-hit Hatay province to express condolences and survey the devastation.
Armenia has also sent aid and rescue workers to quake-affected regions of southern Turkey. A 28-member team from Armenia was dispatched to help rescue efforts in Turkey’s Adiyaman province, and the Turkey-Armenia border was opened—for the first time in 35 years—to allow an Armenian aid convoy to bring critical aid for quake survivors.
Turkish professor of political science and international relations, Talha Kose, believes that the expressions of solidarity emanating from Athens and Yerevan could lead to a “significant change” in bilateral relations. He added, “This is very important in terms of changing the popular mindset.”
Ankara’s special envoy for the normalization process, Serdar Kilic, commented, “I will never forget the generous aid sent by the people of Armenia to help alleviate the sufferings of our people.”
These expressions of solidarity could pave the way for a new era of understanding between Turkey and its historical foes, Greece and Armenia.