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Karamanlis: A clear message to Turkey

Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis on Tuesday emphasised his government’s desire for better relations between Greece and Turkey, during an interview given to the Turkish news agency Anadolu, one day before the start of his official visit to Ankara.
“I will be the first Greek prime minister to visit Turkey after an interval of 48 years. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and I will have an opportunity to focus on Greek-Turkish relations and their future,” he said. 
Underscoring that the Greek government was doing everything in its power to improve relations, he also repeated Athens’ support for Turkey’s European prospects and said the time was right for action to be taken in order to boost bilateral ties. During the interview, Karamanlis pointed to the major progress made in bilateral trade and investments and noted that the volume of trade between the two countries had risen to US $3 billion in 2007 from US $200 million in 1999.He also listed positive developments in tourism between the two countries and the Greek-Turkish natural gas pipeline, which was the result of bilateral cooperation.
At the same time, he pointed to serious bilateral problems that were still outstanding and needed a resolution, such as finding a viable solution to the Cyprus issue based on a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation. Regarding Turkey’s prospects of joining the EU and the opposition voiced in some quarters of Europe, Karamanlis said the EU had an obligation to send a “clear message to all candidate-countries, including Turkey”. “Greece believes that Turkey’s full compliance with the EU acquis will lead to its full accession,” the Greek premier stressed.

However, Karamanlis noted that Turkey had a long way to go before reaching this target, and expressed hope that it would succeed in meeting EU criteria. “It must, also, settle its relations with Cyprus and recognise it,” Karamanlis underlined. Asked to state his message to the Turkish people during his visit, the Greek premier said his message was crystal clear: Greece desires to fully restore relations with Turkey: “The two countries must make efforts to resolve their differences peacefully and on the basis of international law,” he said, expressing a hope that Ankara would reach out to the “hand of friendship extended by Greece.”

Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Foreign Policy – Turkey