Prime Ministers of Greece and Turkey Antonis Samaras and Ahmet Davutoglu concluded two-day talks in Athens.
Athens.- By Christos Michaelides/CNA
The Prime Ministers of Greece and Turkey have stated clearly, after high level talks in Athens, that they feel confident that talks between the two communities in Cyprus will resume shortly.
The talks were suspended last month by the President of Cyprus, Nikos Anastiasiades, in response to “a provocative act by Turkey” which sent a seismic vessel named Barbaros to Cyprus’ territorial waters, designated as an Exclusive Economic Zone by international law.
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said that in spite of «substantial differences with Turkey”, especially on the Cyprus issue, he believes that “the problems which led to the suspension of the talks” can be overcome, and that “very shortly” the two sides will be able to return to the negotiating table.
His counterpart from Turkey, Ahmet Davutoglu, said that it is also Ankara’s desire to see the talks resuming “as soon as possible”, and added that should Greece and Turkey exert their influence in “helping the solution of the Cyprus issue”, this will open the way for “a fruitful co-operate in managing the energy resources in the area”, to the benefit of all.
The President of Cyprus is recovering at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York after open heart surgery on Tuesday.
Davutoglu sent his “warmest regards to President Anastasiades”, wishing him “a quick recovery, so that the inter-communal talks can start again”.
Samaras and Davutoglu attended the 3rd meeting of the High Level Cooperation Council, with the participation of more than 10 ministers from various governmental departments.
Davutoglu stressed that both sides in Cyprus have acknowledged that they should both benefit from the gas and petroleum resources in the sea area off the southern shores of the island, adding that “unilateral actions should be avoided”.
Addressing a joint Greek-Turkish Business Forum on Friday, in Athens, Turkey’s PM said that if the two countries worked together in the exploitation of gas and petroleum from the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean, this could strengthen bonds between them. He spoke of “energy gates to the East and to the West” that could benefit both countries.
A pipeline through Turkey to Asia would open the gates to Greece, and a pipeline through Greece to Europe would open this gate to Turkey, he said.
In the Joint Declaration after the High Level Meeting, the two Prime Ministers noted that:
“Greece and Turkey aim at further promoting their bilateral and regional co-operation in the field of energy, in particular natural gas pipelines and electricity interconnection networks. As far as the transportation of natural gas is concerned, the successful precedent of the TGI pipeline, operational since October 2007, has paved the way for an even closer cooperation between the two countries before the end of this decade. TAP and TANAP, linked together, clearly represent the most cost-efficient route for bringing the Caspian gas to Western Europe (starting from 2020), as verified by the Shah Deniz Consortium decision.”
Samaras said that Greece supports Turkey’s bid to become a full member of the EU, as long as it fulfills “all European obligations and requirements”.
Turkey’s PM thanked him, and added that Greece “is a valuable friend and supporter”, and that he is well aware of the fact that, as he said, in the past other European countries placed the blame on Greece for not wanting his country as a member of the EU, but he knows that this is not true.
“We are grateful to Greece for its continued support”, said Davutoglu who furthermore, in what was seen by political analysts in Athens as “yet another goodwill gesture towards Greece”, spoke against the British Museum’s decision to send a part of the Parthenon Marble Collection on loan to the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. He said that this artefact, a wonderful statue of the headless body of the Ancient Greek God of the Rivers, Ilissos, should me returned with the other Marbles to Greece.
The governments of Greece and Turkey on Saturday issued a joint declaration reaffirming their commitment to further enhance bilateral relations between the two countries, after the 3rd High Level Cooperation Council meeting between the two sides held in Athens.
In the joint declaration, the two sides recognised the fundamental role of mutual respect, trust, international law and good neigbourly relations for the structured framework of their cooperation, which will further enhance regional peace, stability and prosperity and will stimulate the economic growth of the region.
In the light of the increase in their bilateral trade volume and economic cooperation, the two countries agreed to take necessary measures to further strengthen their economic and commercial cooperation.
Greece and Turkey aim at further promoting their bilateral and regional co-operation in the field of energy, in particular natural gas pipelines and electricity interconnection networks. As far as the transportation of natural gas is concerned, the successful precedent of the TGI pipeline, operational since October 2007, has paved the way for an even closer cooperation between the two countries before the end of this decade. They noted that TAP and TANAP, linked together, clearly represent the most cost-efficient route for bringing the Caspian gas to Western Europe (starting from 2020), as verified by the Shah Deniz Consortium decision.
Noting that cooperation in the field of tourism is of great importance for both countries, they said that working on joint projects, targeting important overseas markets, should be strongly encouraged.
They reiterated their agreement to fight against illegal migration, noting that this creates severe and complex problems, and to step up efforts to ensure effective, efficient and swift implementation of the bilateral Greek-Turkish Readmission Protocol. The two countries also agreed to improve their efforts to combat trafficking of human beings and organised crime, by enhancing the cooperation among their respective competent authorities.
Both sides welcomed the signing on December 16, 2013 and the entry into force from October 1, 2014 of the EU – Turkey Readmission Agreement, as well as the initiation of the Visa Liberalisation Dialogue, which will have a positive impact on Greek -Turkish and EU-Turkey relations.
The two countries reiterated their determination to further cooperate to address terrorism, as a major challenge to the stability of the broader region, including in the framework of the global coalition to counter the terrorist threat stemming from the situation in Syria and Iraq
The two sides agreed to explore ways to further enhance cooperation in the fields of justice, culture, transport, infrastructure, rural development and food production.
The joint declaration further noted that Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had a comprehensive exchange of views on bilateral issues, regional and international developments.
Additionally, they exchanged views on Turkey’s EU accession negotiations, inter alia cooperation between Turkey and the EU in the field of foreign and security policy as well as energy policy. The joint declaration said that both countries look forward to Turkey’s membership to the EU, in accordance with the criteria and principles of the EU.
Greece and Turkey also agreed to maintain the momentum in their exploratory talks and Confidence Building Measures discussions.
Government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos underlined the need for the ratification and implementation of the those agreed in the two previous Greek-Turkish High Level Cooperation Councils in order the “huge dynamic that we have in all sectors” to unlock, he said speaking to the Greek-Turkish business forum held in Athens on Friday night.
Referring to the “unprecedented number of crises” that prevails in the region in this period, Venizelos opined that the key for the normalisation and the acceleration of the bilateral relations are “the Cyprus issue and the respect to the International Law, particularly of the international law of the sea”.
Venizelos reminded that after South Stream’s developments, TAP (Trans Adriatic Pipeline)”obtains an additional, exceptionally significant, international, political and developmental dimension”.
He also underlined that the “business cooperation can’t substitute the foreign policy and the policy of security and defence”.
Referring to the current condition of multiple crises in the wider region, Venizelos noted that it is “our common obligation, with respect to the international law and to the international order, to contribute for the stability and to prevent the escalation of the violence and finally to enforce peace, stability and security in the area.
Main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras held talks with visiting Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Saturday, in a meeting held at Athens airport. During this he stressed that meaningful cooperation between the two countries must be based on respect for international law and “the prospect of a fair and viable solution to the Cyprus issue based on UN resolutions”, while it cannot be based on provocations and “faits accomplis”.
“I stressed that sending a Turkish survey vessel, escorted by Navy ships, in order to conduct seismic surveys in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf, undermined this prospect since it constitutes a violation of the Cyprus Republic’s sovereign rights,” Tsipras said in statements after the meeting.
“I underlined that the exploitation by the Cyprus Republic of its undersea mineral wealth is particularly important for the future of Cyprus since, as the Cyprus state leadership has made clear over the years, the benefits will be distributed fairly to the two communities by the Cyprus Republic, following a solution of the Cyprus issue.
SYRIZA’s leader said he had expressed grave reservations about holding the third Greece-Turkey High Level Cooperation Council meeting during the present phase of the crisis in Cyprus, noting that it was an “important forum for promoting cooperation on issues of low policy but not in the framework of talks to discuss developments on the island or the Cyprus issue, for which talks are taking place between on the level of the two communities under UN auspices.”
Regarding relations between Greece and Turkey in general, Tsipras said that diplomatic channels with Turkey must remain open and be based on direct and sincere contacts, especially in crucial times such as the present.
“In this context, I underlined that SYRIZA strong supports enhancing cooperation with Turkey in a series of areas, for the benefit of the people of the two countries and for peace and stability in the region,” he said.