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

Amnesty: EU Failing Migrants, Refugees

Rights group says migrants, refugees subject to detention, extortion, beatings More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office 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.
Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deali
X
July 07, 2015 12:02 PM
If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
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 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.

VOA Blogs