World Bulletin/News Desk
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Saturday that Greek Premier George Papandreou's Friday remarks in Erzurum, which was regarded as shocking by some Turkish newspapers, was nothing more than the known Greek theses.
Many Turkish newspapers quoted Papandreou as calling Turkish military presence in Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) as "invasion", and strongly criticising the alleged flights of Turkish fighter jets over the Aegean islands.
Davutoglu, who held a press conference in Erzurum to make an evaluation of the Third Ambassadors Conference, regarded Papandreou's remarks as nothing extraordinary, merely reiteration of known Greek theses on flights over the Aegean, the Cyprus issue and the minorities.
Responding to a reporter who said Papendreou's remarks came as quite a shock for everyone, Davutoglu said it was natural for neighbours to make different arguments and assume different positions.
He said, nevertheless, Papandreou's participation in the conference was a gesture of good will and showed how Turkish-Greek relations proceeded on the right track to overcome psychological thresholds. He said Papandreou's speech when taken as a whole, contained messages of peace and cooperation.
"His views on the issues you referred to are the known views of Greece. Our position on these issues are known quite well. Our premier has presented our position unequivocally. It is impossible for anyone to impose their position on Turkey. Our positions are mutually well known," said Davutoglu.
Criticized at home
In May, on Erdoğan's first official visit to Greece since 2004, Turkey and Greece pledged to try to ease tensions and signed more than 20 bilateral agreements on issues ranging from energy cooperation, protecting forests and combating illegal immigration, to promoting Greece and Turkey as joint destinations for Chinese tourists and advancing a gas pipeline dubbed ITGI that links Turkey, Greece and Italy.
The agreements were signed on the occasion of a first-ever joint Cabinet meeting, dubbed the high-level strategic cooperation council -- launching a series of annual meetings that will alternate between the two countries.
Ahead of the visit, Papandreou was criticized at home by Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga, who accused the Greek prime minister of putting the country's sovereign rights second, in order to proceed with a joint exploitation of the Aegean and ensure profits for big companies.
“The prime minister's visit to Erzurum seals the agreement between Greece and Turkey on the Aegean. Developments are already under way,” Papariga said, without elaborating on developments.
The two prime ministers most recently held a bilateral meeting in Athens in October on the sidelines of a climate conference in which Erdoğan participated. Following the lengthy meeting, Greek media suggested that Ankara and Athens had reached an agreement in principle over how to resolve the disputes.
According to reports, the likeliest scenario is that Turkey will lift its objections to Greece extending its territorial waters in the Aegean to 12 nautical miles but that this extension only applies to the coastline of its mainland, not the Greek islands. Practically, this scenario would mean that Greece secures control of less than 80 percent of the Aegean, reports at the time said.