Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero announced that the EU would soon launch an initiative to tackle the problem.
Zapatero, who arrived in Istanbul as part of the Alliance of Civilizations initiative, met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at his office in Besiktas, Istanbul.
Zapatero drew attention to the Israeli massacre and said that they were working on a plan within the EU to prevent more tragic events in the region.
Reiterating his support for Turkey's EU bid, Zapatero stated that they would favor the continuation of membership negotiations with Turkey at the EU's December summit.
In reference to the Greek Cypriots' reluctance to resolve the Cyprus issue, Erdogan said that attempts were being made to blur the collective memory of the Greeks' refusal of the U.N. plan.
Erdogan and Zapatero came together to present the Alliance of Civilizations report to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. At a press conference held after the meeting, Zapatero, noting that the events in Gaza had region-wide repercussions, asserted that the international community could no longer remain indifferent to the issue. The tragedy should be stopped now to ensure a peaceful future, Zapatero said, and added that he was confident that Turkey would take action to resolve the issue along with EU countries.
The EU should not be afraid of intercultural differences if it wants to be a global force, said Zapatero. The primary goal of the alliance was to maintain peace and security.
Zapatero declared that at he would favor the unconditional continuation of membership talks with Turkey at the EU summit in December. The Spanish PM, who also recalled that Turkey had exerted great efforts to qualify for full membership, stressed that he was hoping the Finnish Plan would result with a concrete solution.
Turkish PM Erdogan noted in his speech that Turkish Cypriots have continuously supported the UN Plan on Cyprus and commented that this constructive stance had so far been largely ignored.
Erdogan further added that they would not open Turkish ports to Greek Cypriots unless the long-standing isolation imposed on Turkish Cyprus was lifted.
The leaders then signed a Strategy Document to improve bilateral relations between Turkey and Spain. To this end, representatives from 15 leading firms will come together to discuss alternative methods of improving bilateral economic and commercial relations.
After the meeting with Zapatero, Erdogan met with the U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The two leaders were later joined by Prime Minister Zapatero and his wife for dinner.