Political relations, 7.9.2013

Relations between Turkey and Greece

Political relations:

Further improvement of relations between Turkey and Greece on the basis of mutual benefit, is vital not only for the two countries and the people, but also for the well- being and stability of the whole region. A new era has been opened in the Turkish-Greek relations as of 1999, targeting the establishment of the spirit of cooperation instead of competition and of compromise instead of conflict, and a bilateral cooperation and dialogue process was initiated with the establishment of new mechanisms to direct the relations in this process.

The dialogue process that was reactivated with a letter correspondence between our Prime Minister and Greek Prime Minister Papandreou led to the establishment of "High-Level Cooperation Council (HLCC)” between the two countries. The visit paid to Athens by Prime Minister Erdoğan, on 14-15 May 2010 with a delegation of 300 persons and 10 ministers for the first meeting of HLCC, upgraded the bilateral relations to the level of partnership. the 25 agreements signed during and after the HLCC meeting are clear indications of the new era of Turkish-Greek relations.

In line with the positive atmosphere created by this framework in the Turkish-Greek relations, the number of high-level mutual visits increased as well. The visit paid by Prime Minister Erdoğan to Athens on 21-22 October 2010 to attend the Mediterranean Climate Change Initiative Meeting, accompanied by 3 ministers, has contributed to the maintenance of the momentum in the dialogue process. In addition to that, the visit paid by Prime Minister Papandreou to Erzurum on 6-7 January 2011 to attend the Ambassadors Conference is considered significant for accentuation of determination to develop relations with Turkey. Lastly, Foreign Minister Davutoğlu’s 3-day visit to Athens, Thessaloniki and Western Thrace on 8-10 March 2011, one-day visit to Athens on 10 October 2012 and the visit of Foreign Minister Avramopoulos to Ankara on 15 February 2013constituted another indication of the importance we pay to the bilateral relations.

The II. Meeting of the HLCC, which was co-chaired by Prime Minister Erdoğan and Greek Prime Minister Samaras, was held in İstanbul on 4 March 2013. 25 documents were signed during the II. HLCC. In parallel with the HLCC, Turkish - Greek Business Forum was organized at the same day. More than 500 businessmen from both countries attended the Business Forum.

Economic and trade relations:

Our economic and trade relations with Greece have also gained momentum since 1999 along the lines of positive developments witnessed in bilateral political relations. Bilateral trade volume had reached 3.6 billion U.S. $ in 2008, a record-high in its history, while, however, falling to 2.8 billion U.S. $ in 2009 due to the impacts of the global economic crisis. The trade volume displayed an upward trend in 2010 and amounted 3 billion U.S. $. Our exports to Greece declined by 11 per cent to 1.456 billion U.S. $ in 2010 against the previous year, partly because of Greece’s cut down on imports as a result of the financial crisis in the country. On the other hand, our imports reached 1.541 billion U.S. $ in the same year which marks an increase by 37 per cent. Turkey, while ranking 12th in Greece's foreign trade in 2009, has risen to 9th place in 2010. According to 2011 data, Greece’s exports to Turkey has been 2.568 billion U.S. $ and Turkey’s exports to Greece was 1.554 billion U.S. $. Taking into account the data of 2012, Turkish exports to Greece decreased slightly whereas Turkey’s import from Greece increased essentially. Thus, in 2012 Turkey’s exports to Greece has been 1.554 billion U.S. $ and Greece’s exports to Turkey has been recorded as 3.539 billion U.S. $. The trade volume, therefore, reached its all-time high level: 5 billion U.S. $. In line with the current data, Turkey ranked in the 1st place in Greece’s exports.

Turkey’s Trade with Greece (billion U.S. $)

2009 2010 2011 2012

Import 1.129 1.541 1.554 1.402
Export 1.634 1.456 2.568 3.539

Trade Volume 2.763 2.997 4.123 4.941

The banking sector is the number one sector in the field of direct investments between Turkey and Greece. National Bank of Greece (NBG) has entered Turkish finance sector by acquisition of majority stakes of Finansbank. In addition, Greece’s 3th largest bank, EFG Eurobank, purchased 70% shares of Tekfenbank, yet sold its shares to the Burgan Bank of Kuwait and left the Turkish market. On the other hand, as the largest Turkish investment in Greece, the Athens and Komotini branches of Ziraat Bank have been in operation since 2008. The Xanthi branch was opened in 2010 and the Rhodes branch started operations on 7 October 2011. In addition, Turkish companies such as Setur and Doğuş, have invested in Greece in the field of marinas. Greek investors, apart from the banking sector, operate in such fields as information technology (IT), agricultural applications, packaging, plastics, pharmacy, cosmetics, fisheries, tourism and construction sectors in our country. The total worth of Greek companies’ investments in Turkey exceeded 6 billion U.S. $.

Tourism is one of the promising fields of cooperation between the two countries. Turkish tourists who visited Greece in 2010 numbered 561.198. As this figure was 200.348 in 2009, the number of Turkish tourists who visited Greece increased by 180.1% against the previous year. The number of Greek tourists who visited Turkey was 671,000 in 2010 and 702,017 in 2011. Turkish tourists who visited Greece in 2011 numbered 552,090. In line with the current data, the number of Greek tourists who visited Turkey in 2012 has been 669,823 and Turkish tourists who visited Greece numbered 602,306.

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