Turkish Prime Minister visits Athens in bid to tighten co-operation

Turkish Prime Minister visits Athens in bid to tighten co-operation

A “re-rapprochement” between Greece and Turkey is the aim of Binali Yildirim’s visit to Athens on Monday, June 19th.

The visit to Athens by the Turkish Prime Minister was decided on and arranged during the last meeting between the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the “One Belt One Road Forum” in Beijing on 17 May 2017.

The Beijing meeting, which was conducted in very good political climate as Greek and Turkish sources told IBNA, gave the two sides the opportunity to reshape efforts to revive and tighten bilateral relations between Greece and Turkey. Relations between the two countries had become weakened after the failed coup d’état in July 2016 in Turkey as well as the illegal entry into Greece of the 8 Turkish soldiers deemed to have participated in the coup.

The case of the 8 turkish military officials and the referendum on the change of the Constitution in Turkey had created verbal tension in the relations of the two countries, culminating in the questioning, as recorded in the media of the Treaty of Lausanne by the Turkish side. Following the media frenzy Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with a statement from Beijing, that he will always defend the implementation of the Treaty of Lausanne, made it clear that he does not question the treaty, stripping arguments from those who tried to reproduce tension between the two countries. It should also be noted that since the Beijing meeting, there is no mention by a Turkish government questioning the Treaty of Lausanne.

It now appears that the tension between the EU and Turkey that dominated the referendum has been overcome and there are even some references as to Turkey’s European course by Turkish government officials.

Even the economic conjuncture favours a further opening by Turkey to both Europe and Greece, despite all the differences between the two countries, there is a willingness to co-operate on many levels, as it was also evident with the agreements signed during the 4th Greek Cypriot Supreme Cooperation Council in Izmir.

TAP and Turkish Stream will be discussed in the enlarged meetings with the ultimate goal the better cooperation and supply of Azeri and Russian gas to the market and the smooth activation of the two pipelines. There will also be discussions on the alternative forms of energy that both countries want to develop.

Furthermore the Istanbul – Igoumenitsa highway will be discussed, with the new second bridge planned at the Kipos border station and the new Istanbul-Thessaloniki high-speed rail link.

According to IBNA information, the issue of Turkish companies wishing to invest in Greece and record the road map for the implementation of investment plans in the energy, real estate, marinas and tourism sectors will also be discussed in the bilateral talks.

In the efforts to bring Greece closer to Turkey, the announcement of the date for the 5th High-Level Cooperation Summit of the two countries that is expected to take place in October 2017 will also aid the effort. This will demonstrate both sides’ willingness for a more constructive cooperation.

Apart from the issues of cooperation between the two countries, there are also issues that concern the two sides which have also been a cause of tension.

The Cyprus issue will be a major topic of discussion between the two Prime Ministers and the two Foreign Ministers, as Greece and Turkey are two of the three guarantors in Cyprus, and on 28 June the talks under the auspices of the UN will restart.

The Greek side, according to IBNA information, will clarify that the solution of the Cyprus issue is going through the issue of the abolition of guarantees and of the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Cyprus, while the solution should be based on International Law and Decisions of the UN.

There are thoughts on the Turkish side that it will want to question the issue of Turkish citizens persecuted for joining the failed July coup in Turkey as well as the 8 Turkish soldiers who have applied for asylum and are now in Greece. Its is something that can be avoided so that there is no friction created during the rapprochement effort between  the two countries without this meaning that it does not exist on the Turkish side’s agenda.

Finally, the refugee crisis, Euro-Turkish relations and regional developments will also be discussed./IBNA