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

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines 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.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid