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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

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.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More