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

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid