Statements of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmet Davutoğlu following the meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos
Turkey and Greece really should join their forces, their dynamism, so that we can create a synergy in the wider region. This was essentially our perception when we established the High-Level Cooperation Council between Greece and Turkey. Today we are talking through the details for the second meeting of the High-Level Cooperation Council. We completed some of the preparations to a large extent. The first steps towards reaching an agreement were already made. Most probably, under the co-chairmanship of the two Prime Ministers this meeting will take place in Turkey in January. Until then we will finalize our efforts to carry this common vision that I have just mentioned into effect.
The volume of trade between the two countries has reached $4.1 billion, and we are happy that for the first time, 700 million Euros were in favor of Greece. I think that the goal of $10 billion is not unfeasible. I think we have very major prospects in the field of East-West energy corridors, taking into account Turkey’s proximity with the energy producer areas. Regarding the issue of transports, we want to improve the existing fast sea lines, fast railway, as well as air transports. In this framework, we certainly believe that the Aegean will turn into a sea of friendship, peace and prosperity. And in the sectors of culture and tourism we have drawn up some joint plans and facilitations that were carried out this past summer, with the implementation of the pilot programme for visas. The outcome was beneficial, and I think that we should expand this policy.
I would also like to convey a very friendly message regarding the economic crisis Greece is going through right now. We also experienced economic crisis in 2000-2001 and had rough times. The Greeks are proud and hardworking people. We are certain that Greece will overcome these difficulties, and when it does, Turkey and Greece, side by side with strong economies and in a spirit of solidarity, will contribute more to the European history, to Europe, and to their common areas in the Mediterranean. What I told my counterpart, Mr. Avramopoulos, is that the crisis Greece is experiencing right now is like an earthquake – an economic quake – and we would like to convey the message to the Greek people that as we had closely witnessed Greece’s friendship in the aftermath of the earthquake in Turkey and we will never forget this, today Turkey is in solidarity with Greece, supporting the efforts Greece is making, and we are certain that you will overcome the difficulties you are going through.
We believe that when we materialize together all these projects, they will contribute to the revival of the Greek economy and to reinvigorate its dynamism. We consider this as a joint effort for which the two peoples should work in a spirit of solidarity.
But there are some issues, on which we have different opinions, such as the disputes in the Aegean Sea, the issues related to the minorities, the Cyprus issue. I am happy to see the first signs of how we will display a joint effort with my dear friend to handle those problems that fall into this framework. I fully believe that we will mutually resolve Aegean issues positively. We have also agreed on accelerating our efforts on this issue.
My dear friend has expressed that he welcomes steps taken in Turkey in terms of the minorities. We are thankful that those steps have been acknowledged. We took very serious steps. We consider The Greek-Orthodox minority in Turkey and the Turkish-Muslim minority in Greece as a bridge of friendship between us.
We will meet today with people who come from Turkey – some have Turkish citizenship. I will meet with them today, and this meeting will symbolize that we want these two peoples, who were separated through the exchange of populations or other means, to be further integrated. We have the sense that we are part of a common history, a shared geography. And I think that within the framework of this perspective we should really be able in the future to resolve many of our differences. And I feel very happy that we share this visionary approach with my counterpart and that we will work together towards this goal.
We have had some talks on the issue of the European Union and the visa waiver, and we thank Greece in particular for its efforts both to get us the visa waiver, and for its support in the process of our integration with the European Union. We believe that among the most significant gains from Turkey’s integration with the EU will be for Greece. Together, we can contribute much more to Europe. What unfortunately many circles and leaders were not able to understand was very well understood by Greece, and it supports Turkey in its process with the European Union. On this issue, we are grateful to Greece, we thank Greece and we believe that Turkey can contribute very much to Europe.
Regarding the recent developments with Syria, we thank Greece for extending its support in NATO. This sign between allies is also a sign of friendship. We believe that the effort being made by the UN and the very good result and support provided by the UN to Turkey on the issue of disputes with Syria is due in part to the efforts and support of Greece.
We touched upon issues concerning the Balkans. We share a common objective for peace and stability to be established in the Balkans. In the 100th anniversary since the Balkan Wars, together we will continue to make every effort in order for war not to happen again in our region and for peace to be established in a permanent way. Issues concerning the Middle East – the wider Middle East, issues concerning our relations with Syria – are issues that we touched upon during our talks. They are issues that concern us both. We, as democratic countries, support the calls for democracy made by the peoples of the Arab countries. In summary, what I wish to say is that today in Athens and in Ankara there are two governments that have a very similar perspective either in bilateral relations, or in the framework of the European Union, or in regional policies.
The governments in Athens and Ankara are friends. There are two Foreign Ministers, Greek and Turkish, who are linked by a friendship. The last time we talked by phone was during his visit, as Defence Minister, to Edirne. We talked on the phone and exchanged greetings and I was able to send some sweets. In short, we are linked by something more than simple friendship. I would like to thank you again for your hospitality and I wish that we will host you in our country in the near future
Thank you very much.
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