ANKARA: Turkish & Greek PMs Sow Seeds of Strategic Partnership

Zaman, Turkey
May 8 2004

PMs Sow Seeds of Strategic Partnership

“Let’s not jeopardize our future with the petty calculations,” said
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to his Greek counterpart
Kostas Karamanlis. Erdogan’s is currently paying an official visit to
Athens, the first such visit for a Turkish Prime Minister in 16

Erdogan and Karamanlis talked about a ‘united will’ for the solution
of various issues. Their joint message was, ‘a secure future’. Many
feel that Erdogan’s visit marks the beginning of a new page in
Turkish-Greek relations.

The two leaders came together for an inter-delegation talk. “Let’s
not jeopardize our future with petty calculations,” Erdogan said,
implying about the contentious Aegean continental shelf issue.

“Our future gains will be more than what we have lost in the past,”
replied Karamanlis.

Karamanlis discussed Turkey’s E.U. membership with Erdogan. “We
regard Turkey’s accession to the E.U. as strategically important. We
praise the steps you have taken in that direction. Implementation is
crucially important; however, after knowing your personality, I
believe this issue will be overcome as well.”

The Turkish Prime Minister offered help to Greece for the 2004 Athens
Olympic games if it is requested. He emphasized that it was a pity
not to have direct flights between Athens and Ankara. Erdogan also
voiced his discomfort for a local Greek minister ‘s participation in
a meeting concerning claims of the so-called Armenian genocide.
“Let’s leave history to historians and not make this a tool for
politics,” said Erdogan.

After the talks, both leaders held a press briefing. Erdogan replied
to a question about the Heybeliada Seminary by saying that the
studies are in progress, as are studies about the continental shelf

Meanwhile, the Greek press covered the visit on the front pages of
the newspapers and emphasized the start of a ‘new era’. Erdogan is
expected to visit Western Thrace today and make statements to bring
ease to both the Turkish people living in the region and Athens.

Edip Ali Yavuz