Greece's leader 'to try to warm ties with Turkey'

Long at odds over territorial issues and the divided island of Cyprus, Greece and Turkey came close to war over a deserted islet in the Aegean Sea in 1996.

Greece's leader 'to try to warm ties with Turkey'

Greek opposition socialist leader George Papandreou said he "would try to warm relations with Turkey" if elected on Oct. 4 but Ankara needed to respect "EU rules" to get a good December progress report from Brussels.

Papandreou, a former foreign minister whose PASOK party is leading opinion polls by a wide margin ahead of the vote, said,

"We want to revive this momentum which has been lost but at the same time evaluate the difficulties and the problems that have cropped up in bilateral relations," he told Reuters in an interview.

Long at odds over territorial issues and the divided island of Cyprus, Greece and Turkey came close to war over a deserted islet in the Aegean Sea in 1996.

Cyprus joined the EU as a divided island when Greek Cypriots in the south rejected the UN reunification plan in twin referendums in 2004 even though the Turkish Cypriots in the north overwhelmingly supported it.

However, the promise made by EU foreign ministers before the referendums to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots and establish direct trade with north Cyprus remains unfulfilled.

Papandreou was instrumental in rebuilding relations with Turkey as foreign minister in the late 1990s.

Relations had since improved but a visit by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to Turkey in 2008, seen as the crowning of a decade of warming ties failed to produce the desired progress.


Agencies

Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2009, 19:07
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