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Athens News Agency: News in English, 11-01-08

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM details bilateral problems, prospects in Erzurum address

  • [01] PM details bilateral problems, prospects in Erzurum address

    ERZURUM (ANA-MPA) -- Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou on Friday covered the gamut of Greek-Turkish relations, differences and whatever prospects for resolution, speaking during a closely watched address at a conference here of Turkey's top diplomats and leadership.

    In opening his address in the northeastern Anatolia city of Erzurum, Papandreou referred to an opportunity to "speak frankly and openly about our future. Will this be a future of peace or confrontation?"

    The one-time Greek foreign minister, credited with initiating the so-called "earthquake rapprochement" of 1999 with the late Turkish FM Ismail Cem, referred directly to the challenges and day-to-day problems affecting bilateral relations, while he noted that his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has chosen to contribute to a new relationship of peace and cooperation. (ANA-MPA)

    "Nevertheless, trust is difficult to develop," he stressed, citing a provocation that occurred as late as Wednesday with the overflight of eight Turkish warplanes of "a small Greek isle (Agathonissi) with 150 inhabitants."

    "... What's the meaning behind this violation of Greek sovereignty? These types of actions do not change the (legal) status in the Aegean, you can be certain of that. They (overflights) may have become routine for Turkey, but do not believe they are routine for Greece. Every such action is a reminder to Greeks that Turkey has not decided to establish different relations with Greece," he emphasised.

    Conversely, he underlined that he doesn't believe "the actions of one day" can undermine the careful and systematic work conducted over years. Moreover, he called on Erdogan, whom he referred to as a "reliable interlocutor", to consolidate the "trust between us and, in the end, to build a stable peace".

    In further touching on bilateral relations, he said ties should not be left to chance or to fate. (ANA-MPA)

    "We need to consolidate rules in our relations; principles and international law, agreements and rule of law. That's why it's a dangerous luxury to not solve the continental shelf delineation issue. This difference marked the beginning of the Greek-Turkish confrontation in the early 1970s and continues to be a major problem in our bilateral relations," he said, adding:

    "Since 2002, with the exploratory contacts, we have attempted to ascertain whether there is common ground that could lead to an agreed to resolution ... We are obliged to make every effort at finding a mutually acceptable solution. If we don't achieve this within a reasonable amount of time, we must then seek recourse to international justice for a judgement based on international law. In the interim, steps must be taken to reduce tension."

    At this point Papandreou again reiterated that "if Turkey truly means that it seeks peace they (overflights) must cease."

    In a statement to most of his audience, top Turkish diplomats and envoys, he said:

    "You are experienced diplomats and know very well that in today's world the threat of war has no place, nor does it solve problems. Certainly not by a Turkey that states that it wants zero problems with its neighbours," he said.

    In reference to the long-standing Cyprus problem, Papandreou was equally succinct and direct.

    "The time will come to have an open and substantive discussion between us over Turkey (EU's) candidacy. My vision has always been a Cyprus that will serve as a model for the peaceful and democratic cohabitation of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, Christians and Muslims. Of course, the Cyprus issue never had as its basis religious dimensions. (ANA-MPA)

    "However, there should be no illusions. The international community will not legalise an invasion. Turkey's European course will not be completed as long as the occupation (of one-third of Cyprus by Turkey) continues. A new effort is needed," he said, while adding that Cyprus President Demetris Christofias is the leader that can produce a solution on the part of the Greek Cypriots.

    Caption: Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou (L) and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan visit the historic Yakutiye Madrassah in Erzurum, northeastern Turkey, on 07 January 2011. Erzurum is the host of the 2011 World University Winter Games, which begin on 27 January 2011. -PA/EPA/CEM OZDE

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