Athens, March 9, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
The 4th Greece – Turkey Cooperation Council was held in Izmir with the participation of the prime ministers of the two countries. The conclusion of the meeting was followed by the signing of bilateral agreements for the return of irregular migrants, transportations, trade and tourism, the ferry link between Thessaloniki and Izmir, with the help of the private sector, and the railway link between Igoumenitsa and Istanbul.
A. Tsipras and A. Davutoglu emphasised in their statements that the expansion of economic relations between the two countries and the common will to tackle in a human manner what is happening in the Aegean, which the Greek Prime Minister called “Shameful”.
The two homologues had talks on the refugee issue, in a face to face meeting, a day after the summit in Brussels, which was followed by a joint press conference.
Ankara reportedly has accepted the proposal of European partners to implement the readmission of irregular migrants. Final decisions are expected in ten days, in the new European Union – Turkey summit to be held on March 17-18.
Alexis Tsipras made the following statement:
I want to thank my friend Ahmed with whom as he said we meet often. Here in Izmir, on the balcony of the Aegean, I feel the historical weight this historic city sumbolises, but also the refugee pain which also takes place in our days; but we should stressed that Izmir is a symbol of cosmopolitanism and trade, and of peace and brotherhood in the Aegean.
The future of the two countries passes through the tackling of the refugee flows. A joint mechanism is being promoted for a legal route to Europe, that will help to tackle traffickers and to stop to mourn victims in the Aegean. To discourage people from crossing through the Aegean and open a legal controlled passage with a credible resettlement mechanism in EU countries.
The current Council gave us the opportunity to highlight the many opportunities and prospects for the development of our relations in the energy sector but also in tourism, to sign the air connection between Athens and Ankara, the ferry connection between the port of Thessaloniki and Izmir and the construction of an ultrafast railway line between Istanbul and Igoumenitsa. In addition to the construction of flood protection works and a second border bridge at Koipoi (Customs) in Evros and the cooperation between the public television of the two countries.
The international community sees the minute the incredible drama of people who become victims of traffickers, which is something that is a shame for our values and our culture. We are here to protest our belief to put an end to the war with effective counter-terrorism and oppression, while we make a joint effort to attack these networks of traffickers because I find it unacceptable to have such high-tech systems and be unable to deal with the traffickers.
Today we signed the update of readmission cooperation protocol. I want to emphasize that Greece and Turkey will continue to provide assistance to the persecuted, but they are not countries that will keep people who want a better life in Europe. We decided to take measures for the illegal immigrants and to provide assistance for the smooth flow to the countries of Europe.
The casus belli is a remnant of another era. We must strengthen our relations, overcome common problems and build a better future for our peoples.
The Greek prime minister also referred to the Cyprus issue and the Aegean, stressing that the increase in violations by the Turkish side is not consistent with the good climate in Greek-Turkish relations.
The Turkish prime minister Ahmet Ntavoutolgou stressed that Greece and Turkey share the refugee crisis, stating that Turkey has hosted 2.7 million Syrian refugees. He emphasized the need for cooperation between the two countries, so as to have no other victims in the Aegean.
Replying to a question concerning flight violations in the Aegean, he stated that the hostile policies of the past held us back.
Turkey has no offensive strategy towards Greece and I think the same is true of the Greek side. I want us to take out from everyone’s mind and everyone’s thoughts the event of a war.