Athens is gearing up to implement a one-year visa-on-arrival program for Turkish citizens visiting the Aegean islands, Greek and Turkish local media has reported.
The move comes following collaborative efforts aimed at fostering improved ties between the historically strained neighbors.
Details of a draft agreement outlining a joint initiative toward combatting illegal migration were revealed following a meeting between Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya and Greece’s Migration and Asylum Minister Dimitris Kairidis in the Turkish capital Ankara last week, according to the Greek media.
According to daily Kathimerini, the deal proposes a one-year visa application option for Turkish citizens visiting the islands of Rhodes, Lesbos, Samos,Chios, Kos, Leros and Meis. This marks a significant extension from the previous practice, which allowed a stay of only 15 days before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kathimerini said the new visa facility “could serve as a blueprint for similar initiatives across Europe.”
The agreement also includes provisions for the placement of an official from the Turkish Coast Guard on permanent duty on the island of Lesbos, and a counterpart from the Greek Coast Guard to be stationed in İzmir.
Furthermore, the agreement emphasizes a commitment from both nations to “avoid extremist rhetoric” concerning illegal immigration, according to the paper.
These recent developments follow a series of positive gestures between the two countries, historically marred by territorial disputes, differences in maritime boundaries and political disagreements.
The thaw in relations began after Greece promptly dispatched rescue teams and aid to southern Türkiye following devastating earthquakes in February, which claimed the lives of over 55,000 people.
Similarly, both nations stood together in solidarity after a tragic train crash in northern Greece resulted in the loss of 57 lives, with Ankara expressing condolences and providing assistance.
Looking ahead, diplomatic engagements are set to continue, with confidence-building negotiations scheduled for November.
Additionally, the Türkiye-Greece High-Level Cooperation Council meeting, slated for Dec. 7 in Thessaloniki, will be chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
At this meeting, final touches are expected to be added to several agreements covering trade, tourism and joint efforts against natural disasters, according to Greek media.