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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 13-03-04

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Samaras and Erdogan meet, discuss 'all issues'

  • [01] Samaras and Erdogan meet, discuss 'all issues'

    AMNA -- Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras met his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul on Monday, for talks covering the full range of bilateral issues between Greece and Turkey. Earlier, during the second Greek-Turkish High-Level Cooperation Council, the two sides had signed 25 separate bilateral agreements. Summarising the results during joint statements with the Turkish premier, Samaras said it had been "a good day for relations between the two countries".

    During this joint press conference, Erdogan reported that they had shared a "common conviction based on the principles of a win-win solution," that there should be "steps for an Exclusive Economic Zone in the Eastern Mediterranean." Samaras, however, stated that this was "not the time to go into details" on this issue and that Greece "reserved the rights arising from international law."

    The Greek prime minister stressed that Greece, in spite of the crisis, remained a stable factor for peace and security in the region, adding that the meetings aimed to build up good neighbour relations and attempt to resolve differences. On the issue of the continental shelf, he said this was a subject of exploratory talks between the two sides and emphasised Greece's commitment to international law and international treaties.amna

    The two premiers also discussed economic relations, boosting tourism, respect and protection for cultural heritage and tackling illegal migration. Samaras noted that their talks had focused on several "day-to-day" policy issues that would improve the lives of ordinary people, as well as ways of boosting economic growth and generating jobs.

    "We are building up trust, creating mutual interests, bringing the citizens of the two countries closer together," he added.

    The Greek premier referred to the troubled history between the two countries, noting that some differences extended to the present day, but stressed that there was an obligation to improve and enhance relations for the benefit of the entire region.

    "We are establishing relations of mutual respect. The golden rule for a good relationship is mutual respect, national sovereignty and respect for international law," Samaras underlined.

    Concerning minorities, the Greek premier said that in all states where the rule of law applied, all citizens had to enjoy equal protection before the law and the state and that their rights were guaranteed based on international law.

    He went on to express Greece's support for Turkey's full accession to the European Union, stressing that this was a "fixed point of reference" but one requiring that Turkey fully comply with all the obligations of an EU candidate state. He said that Greece wanted a solution to the Cyprus problem that respected European rules and regulations, international law and the decisions of the UN Security Council.

    Noting that more than 20 ministers had attended the Greece-Turkey Cooperation Council, while business people participating in the Greek-Turkish forum were striving for mutually beneficial partnerships, Samaras expressed a desire for such meetings to be more frequent.amna

    "The aim is to build trust and improve relations without big talk but with actions and steady steps. Through the contacts of politicians and businessmen we want to bring the two peoples closer. We are putting growth at the service of peace," he said.

    Erdogan also described Monday's meetings as "very useful" and stressed that the number of agreements signed, as well as the 22 agreements signed in 2010, "are indicative of the progress we have made in areas of cooperation".

    "Greece and Turkey are neighbouring countries and are fulfilling their obligations. Neighbourhood has obligations," he said, adding that the meeting had served to "examine the issues that have been realised and those that can be realised."

    He noted that the volume of trade transactions had risen by nearly a third since 2010 and that the target was to double this, while Greek investments in Turkey amounted to 6.6 billion dollars and more than one million Turks and Greeks had travelled between the two countries since 2010.amna

    "The contacts will improve the level of cooperation of the two countries; the minorities can be a bridge for the two countries to come closer and they deserve to live in peace and prosperity," he added.

    Concerning the differences between Greece and Turkey, Erdogan noted: "We have some differences, which will be overcome through dialogue. On Cyprus we are guarantor powers and we are obliged to negotiate. The Cyprus issue must become a historical past. We are willing to proceed toward results."

    Erdogan also especially noted the support offered by Greece to Turkey's bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games, while both sides indicated their desire to minimise the phenomenon of terrorism.amna

    Agreements signed on Monday related to tourism, justice, culture, health, migration, shipping, agriculture and sports and Greece's support for Turkey's bid to host the Olympics.

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