Greece and Turkey skirt round Cyprob

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has visited Athens for the third High Level Strategic Council between Greece and Turkey and called for closer cooperation with Greece, Turkish daily ‘Hurriyet’ reports.

During the meeting, little reference was made to the Cyprus problem.

“The more economic dependence and interdependence increases, the less conflicts and tensions we have,” Davutoğlu (R) said, addressing the Greek-Turkish Business Forum after meeting his counterpart Antonis Samaras on 5th December.

“Turkey wants a strong Greece so that together we can strengthen the future of our two countries and our positions in Europe,” he added.

Samaras also stressed the benefits of improved economic ties.

“It is important for neighbouring countries to cultivate political stability and trust. Then new paths of financial and commercial contacts can arise for the benefit of both nations,” he said.

Both Prime Ministers appeared to avoid the issue of the stalled Cyprus talks which resulted as a dispute over rights to hydrocarbons found offshore South Cyprus.

Turkey has voiced its opposition to the unilateral decision of South Cyprus to search for hydrocarbons offshore Cyprus before a settlement in the Cyprus negotiations is reached.

To make its point, Turkey eventually sent a research vessel to the area which, South Cyprus has declared as its exclusive economic zone, prompting Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to abandon the talks.

“We do not want tension in the Aegean or the Eastern Mediterranean,” Davutoğlu said, hoping for compromise. “Let’s solve the Cyprus problem so we can exploit its energy resources together and connect the possible sources of energy with Greece through Turkey.”

One of the issues at the top of the agenda was the creation of a gas hub on the border between Turkey and Greece after Russian President Putin abandoned plans for the South Stream pipeline which was to transport gas via Bulgaria to Europe in favour of the Turkish-Greek border hub.

The Strategic Council was launched by Greece and Turkey in 2010 in order to develop confidence building measures to improve relations between both countries.

To date, the talks have produced 50 accords on immigration, disaster response, tourism, health, transport, agriculture, immigration, culture and sport, some of which were to be “re-evaluated”, the Greek Foreign Ministry stated on 3rd December.

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