Turkish PM’s Greece Visit Aimed At Improving Bilateral Ties


People’s Daily
May 14 2010

Turkish Prime Minister Rejep Tayip Erdogan is due to arrive in Athens
on Friday for a two-day visit that both the two neighboring countries
hope would open a new chapter in their troubled relations.

"We wish to change a page in our bilateral ties. We feel satisfied
that the Greek government thinks alike. Any step forward will be for
the benefit of our people and the stability and peace in the region.

We want to show solidarity to Greece," Erdogan told Greek newspaper
"TA NEA" (The News) on the eve of his trip.

It will be Erdogan’s first visit to Athens in six years, as Greece
faces a six-month-old severe economic crisis. Erdogan will be
accompanied by his wife Emine, half of the Turkish cabinet and
around 100 Turkish businessmen on the visit, which will focuse on
strengthening cooperation on economy, tourism, energy, as well as
more sensitive issues like cuts in defense spending.

There are strong views on both sides of the Aegean Sea that separates
and connects the two archrivals that the current crisis could provide
an opportunity for them to improve ties.

Turkey itself has gone through similar economic crises over the
past two decades and Erdogan has expressed willingness "to help our
neighbors in every possible way."

Ten agreements are expected to be signed on Friday afternoon that will
strengthen collaboration between Greece and Turkey in the framework
of the bilateral Highest Council of Strategic Cooperation, a forum of
ministers from both sides that could be held once a year to improve
bilateral relations.

The Turkish side has reportedly suggested joint investments in the
construction of oil and gas pipelines and development of renewable
energy sources, and in telecommunications, cross-border trade, the
banking sector, food exports to Balkan countries and environmental

Athens is said to examine with more caution an offer from Ankara to
cut defense spending. "Our countries could save huge sums of money
through this action," Erdogan stressed in comments on the Greek
national television channel NET a few hours before he is due to arrive.

In response, Greek government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis said "such
an agreement is dictated by the international economic crisis, but
the terms on reaching that point are limited."

Despite efforts to resolve their longstanding differences such as
sovereignty over the Aegean Sea and the Cyprus issue, distrust remains
between the two countries.

Commenting on the Cyprus issue, Erdogan told NET that a fair and
permanent solution would strengthen stability in the whole Eastern
Mediterranean area.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, who has invited Erdogan to
visit Athens, has sought improved ties with Turkey since the 1990s,
when he was a foreign minister. The devastating 1999 earthquakes in
both Greece and Turkey brought the two countries and people closer,
but the main issues remain unresolved.

During the two-day visit, apart from economic ties and the Cyprus
issue, the two sides are expected to discuss ongoing flights by Turkish
military aircraft over the Aegean in Greek airspace, Turkey’s bid to
join the European Union, as well as the issue of the Muslim minority
in northern Greece.

The Turkish prime minister will have a series of meetings, starting
with a visit to Greek President Karolos Papoulias on Friday, a
working lunch with his Greek counterpart, a meeting with Greece’s
main opposition party leader Antonis Samaras, as well as attending
the Greek-Turkish Highest Council of Strategic Cooperation and a
business forum held in an Athens hotel.

Greek police have stepped up security in Athens the past few hours,
especially after a terrorist bomb attack at the main prison of the
city on Thursday night that injured a young woman.

Armenians and Greek far-right groups who oppose Erdogan’s visit to
Greece have scheduled a protest in downtown Athens on Friday evening
and a march toward the Turkish embassy.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS