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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-05-07

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Greek FM meets Turkish counterpart
  • [02] Austrian President speaks to ANA-MPA

  • [01] Greek FM meets Turkish counterpart

    Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis held talks with her Turkish counterpart Ali Babacan in Strasbourg on Wednesday, on the sidelines of the Council of Europe session, stressing that "the process on improving Greek-Turkish relations is a marathon race and not a 100-metres dash."

    The meeting, that took place at the Turkish minister's request, lasted for over half an hour in a friendly atmosphere.

    "You are aware that Greek-Turkish relations are developing very well, following the visit to Turkey by Prime Minister Mr. (Costas) Karamanlis and it was a great pleasure for me to meet Ali Babacan again," Bakoyannis said.

    The minister referred to the confidence-building measures that were adopted in December, "which are being implemented now and for which the two foreign ministers are working."

    She stated that the army chief will be repaying in May the visit, made by the chief of the Turkish army, to Turkey and underlined a "very good economic cooperation existing between the two countries that amounts to 2.3 billion euros."

    Wednesday's meeting is part of a series of meetings anticipated between the two foreign ministers, following a joint decision to utilise every opportunity in international fora, aimed at continuous mutual briefing on issues arising between the two countries, as the Greek minister explained.

    Replying to a question by the press on "whether, after so many friendly meetings, she discerns some change in attitude on the issue of the Aegean and the issue of the recognition of the Patriarchate," Bakoyannis said that she raised these issues, as she raises them every time, stressing that "but the improvement of Greek-Turkish relations is a long process, it is a marathon race and not a 100-metres dash."

    Also asked whether she sees any mobility in relation to the issue of Cyprus, and possibly some solution, the minister said "I believe that the agreement reached in March (between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat) was a very good agreement between the two leaders. I believe that there is a will and both leaders want progress to take place. Greece, just like Turkey as well, are encouraging the two sides in particular, so that we can have a just solution to the issue soon."

    In March 2008, Cyprus President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Talat, during a meeting in the presence of the UN, agreed to set up working groups and technical committees to deal with various aspects of the Cyprus problem with a view to prepare the ground for substantive negotiations between the two leaders. Six working groups and seven technical committees were set up and are currently holding meetings in Nicosia.

    Referring to the issue of Cyprus as well, Babacan said "Turkey and Greece are supporting the two leaders in Cyprus to continue discussions and we are committed absolutely to this."

    Babacan also commented on the Greek prime minister's recent visit to Turkey, pointing out that "after 49 years, we were very happy to receive Prime Minister Mr. Karamanlis in Turkey. This visit signalled a new phase in our relations. I met with Mr. Karamanlis last December in Greece and, following the visit to Turkey by Mrs. Bakoyannis, we decided to meet frequently and to talk about issues of mutual interest, international issues" and adding that "we are very pleased that we shall be welcoming the chief of the army."

    [02] Austrian President speaks to ANA-MPA

    Austrian President Heinz Fischer, speaking in an exclusive interview with the ANA-MPA here on Wednesday, underlined the excellent relations existing between Austria and Greece, following his visit on Wednesday to the two Greek Orthodox cathedrals in the Austrian capital, Saint George and Holy Trinity.

    The Austrian President expressed pleasure that he will be welcoming in a few weeks his "very good personal friend", Greek President Karolos Papoulias, who will be making an official visit to Austria on July 3-5, returning the visit made to Greece by President Fischer in May, 2007.

    Referring to his visit to Greece last year, President Fischer said in his interview with the ANA-MPA that he has the best of memories of his visit during which, as he said, an identity of views was ascertained between the two sides on political issues.

    President Fischer pointed out that his visit to Greece was characterised by the very good personal atmosphere, something that will be continued, as he noted, during the upcoming visit to Austria by President Papoulias as well, while efforts will be made to ensure that this visit will be for the Greek President "successful, useful and valuable, as well as interesting and pleasant."

    Expressing his satisfaction over his visit to the two historic Greek Orthodox cathedrals, President Fischer said that they remind and prove that Hellenism in Austria, and in Vienna in particular, had a long and glorious history, having played an important role in the past, while what remains equally important, as he added, is that this traditioon remains alive today as well.

    Photo: Austrian President Heinz Fischer (R) and Greek President Karolos Papoulias pictured in Ioannina, during the former's official visit to Greece in 2007.

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