News / Europe

    Greece Boosts Cooperation with Turkey

    Greece's Prime Minister Antonis Samaras (L) and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan shake hands during their meeting in Istanbul, March 4, 2013.
    Greece's Prime Minister Antonis Samaras (L) and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan shake hands during their meeting in Istanbul, March 4, 2013.
    Reuters
    Beset by economic crisis at home, Greece took a symbolic step towards improving relations with long-time arch rival Turkey on Monday by pledging to double annual trade with its eastern neighbor over the next three years.

    Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, on his first visit to Turkey since winning power in June, met his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul and signed deals on issues from agriculture to disaster relief.

    They set a target of $10 billion in annual trade by 2015.

    The Aegean nations have long been embroiled in disputes over territory, energy exploration and the divided island of Cyprus, but Greece's main priority now is boosting an economy which has shrunk about 20 percent since 2008.

    "Today is a good day for Greek-Turkish relations, and it's in our hands to have more of these good days,'' Samaras told a news conference in Turkey's largest city Istanbul, saying the two sides were carefully building trust.

    "There are still issues we do not agree on and our disagreements may be significant, but ... we are trying to create relations of mutual respect," he said after a meeting that included more than 20 cabinet members from both sides.

    The two NATO members were nearly drawn into a military clash as recently as 1996 over an uninhabited Aegean islet, and fears of conflict have driven high levels of Greek spending on defence that Athens can no longer afford.

    Ties between the two neighbors improved after 1999, when earthquakes in both countries led to spontaneous deliveries of aid and prompted their leaders to begin dialogue. Trade has grown strongly and amounted to $5 billion last year.

    Greece is the fifth-biggest foreign investor in Turkey, with its direct investments totalling $6.5 billion between 2002 and 2011, Erdogan said. Around one million Turks and Greeks visit each other's country each year.

    Cyprus Problem Persists

    Erdogan reinforced the sense of a thaw in relations.

    "We believe the constructive atmosphere between our countries, the mutual understanding and good neighborliness will strengthen our ties further," he told the news conference.

    Erdogan also emphasised that better relations between the neighbors boosts stability in the east Mediterranean.

    While Athens backs Ankara's European Union bid, the failure to reunite the divided island of Cyprus has stood in the way.

    Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 in response to a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at uniting the east Mediterranean island with Greece. Turkey keeps some 30,000 troops in a Turkish Cypriot enclave that only it recognizes.

    "We want to bury the Cyprus problem in history," Erdogan said. The Greek Cypriot Republic of Cyprus joined the EU in 2004.

    A dispute over Aegean energy exploration is also flaring up, with Samaras suggesting Greece wants to demarcate the areas beneath the sea in which it hopes to find oil and gas. Turkey warns against any unilateral moves.

    Other problems include Ankara's objection to the Greek state's involvement in the appointment of religious officials, including Islamic clerics, and stalled plans for a state mosque in Athens where an ethnic Turkish Muslim minority lives.

    Turkey's refusal to reopen the Halki Greek Orthodox seminary on an island near Istanbul is another bone of contention.

    Critics also accuse Turkey of interfering in the affairs of the Greek Orthodox church in Istanbul, although church officials have praised government moves to improve some rights.

    "Enabling minorities in the two countries to live a prosperous and happy life will undoubtedly strengthen our friendship," Erdogan said.

    At the meeting, ministers signed 25 deals on areas including agriculture, health, transport, media, immigration, disaster relief and more. A Turkish diplomatic source said they were largely pledges of goodwill to deepen cooperation.

    "Historically Greek-Turkish relations have been difficult, we were like cats and dogs," he said. "This meeting is the expression of the political will on both sides to see this relationship fulfil its potential. We have differences but there is a desire for a positive agenda."

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: SAS from: USA
    March 05, 2013 10:33 AM
    Long live Greco Turkish friendship.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora