News / Europe

Turkey's PM Heads to Greece for Key Talks

Dorian Jones

Turkey's prime minister is heading to Greece Friday for what is being described as an historic trip. The visit is seen as an important step towards resolving decades-long differences between the two nations.  Both countries will look toward improving ties and economic cooperation as Greece struggles under an acute debt crisis.

Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be accompanied by 11 cabinet ministers and more than 100 businessmen on his two-day visit to Greece. Featured heavily in the discussions will be trade and investment opportunities.

But the key issue will be discussing territorial and diplomatic differences, which in the past few decades have brought the neighbors to the brink of war on several occasions.

Political scientist Cengiz Aktar of Bahcesehir University says the summit presents a unique opportunity.

"It is definitely a perfect win-win situation," noted Aktar.  "I mean, if these two countries can solve their joint problems once and for all,  it will be beneficial for both countries."

Though ties have improved over the past decade, tensions flared in the Aegean Sea - where the countries' fighter jets often stage mock dogfights.   

The two NATO-members came to the brink of war three times between 1974 and 1996 over the ethnically divided island of Cyprus and territorial rights in the Aegean Sea.

And, the issue of Cyprus will also be key to their meeting.  The island remains divided between Greek and Turkish communities since an invasion by Turkey in 1974 following an Athens-backed coup.  The Greek part of the island is a member of the EU, and has vetoed several of Turkey's EU accession chapters.

The Turkish government has made it a diplomatic priority to revitalize the membership process which has come to a virtual halt.

Suat Kiniklioglu is a spokesman for the Turkish parliament's foreign affairs committee.

"We want a resolution to the Cyprus problem, this needs to get out of our way," said Kiniklioglu.  "We want to integrate further with the European Union and Cyprus is a problem."

UN-sponsored talks on the island hit a snag last month when Turkish Cypriots elected a hard-liner critical of the talks. In a bid to accelerate the talks, Mr. Erdogan is expected to press his Greek counterpart to expand the UN talks to include their respective countries.

Richard Howitt, a member of the European parliament's committee on Turkey, says time maybe running out for unification efforts.  

"I believe those people who say the younger generations on the island do not really cherish and search out unification on the island," said Howitt.  "In the same way as the people who've lived through the war and its aftermath and I do fear if these talks fail now, that we may be looking at a partition on the island of cyprus for another generation or longer."

The resolution of the Cyprus issue is seen by many observers as key to bringing an end to the rivalry between Greece and Turkey.

Greece is the European Union's largest military spender in terms of gross domestic product, due to its often hostile relations with its eastern neighbor. With Athens facing international pressure to slash spending, finding that resolution is powerful incentive for the Greek prime minister, says political scientist Cengiz Aktar.

"The Greek government is in desperate need to find more room to reduce its public deficit and here we have got a golden opportunity with military expenditures," added Aktar.  "If both countries can sign a comprehensive non aggression deal which does not exist between Turkey and Greece I think that might have a tremendous positive effect in terms of peace dividends on the Greek economies present and future problems."

All previous attempts by Greek and Turkish leaders to resolve their differences have ended in failure. But the prize for Turkey of revitalizing its EU bid and for Greece of securing major economic gains means both sides have a lot more riding on a successful outcome this time.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs