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Papandreou to announce new ’road map’ for Turkey relations

Friday 23 October 2009, by CHRIS LOUTRADIS


Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou’s first trip to Istanbul and his visit to Greek Cyprus this week signaled a new era not only in Greek-Turkish relations but also in EU-Turkey relations. Papandreou is known as the most long-standing supporter of Turkey’s bid to join the EU

Something has definitely changed in Turkish-Greek relations with the rebirth of the “Papandreou era” in the Greek foreign ministry.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou supports Turkey’s EU accession bid, officials at the Greek foreign ministry told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Papandreou would work toward a solution in Cyprus while aiming to better relations between Turkey and his country.

Greece will support a solution in Cyprus, said the sources, adding that Papandreou would press for a solution that is in compliance with the European Union. “Greece will support any solution that is beneficial for the prosperity of the whole island,” one official said.

In addition, said the sources, Papandreou believes that as an important step toward the unification of the island, Turkey and Greece should remain active observers, but not be involved in the actual peace process.

“Papandreou is a strong supporter of two things: the improvement of Turkish-Greek relations and Turkey’s candidacy in the EU,” said the official.

The Greek prime minister is expected to try to re-energize the now-defunct committees that were established during Papandreou’s first tenure as foreign minister between 1999 and 2004. The committees were established to discuss and resolve issues between Turkey and Greece.

“The role of the committees is crucial to the betterment of relations between the two nations,” said Alexis Irakleidis, a professor of international relations at Athens’ Panteion University.

According to the officials at the Greek foreign ministry, Greece will continue to support Turkey’s EU candidacy. The sources said Papandreou believes that if Turkey succeeds in becoming a member of the European Union, it would be beneficial for Greece. “However, Turkey has certain obligations toward the EU that she should deliver,” the foreign-ministry official added.

Papandreou is expected to voice his opinion that Turkey’s EU accession process has lost part of its “dynamism” at an upcoming EU summit. “During the EU summit in December, we should give a powerful new push to Turkey’s candidacy in the European Union, following the first steps Papandreou initiated during his visit to Greek Cyprus,” said the official.

According to sources in the Greek foreign ministry, Papandreou will implement a new approach toward Turkey-EU relations that is be called a “road map.” It is expected to have at its core a possible resolution to the Cyprus issue with the agreement of Turkey.

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Source: HDN, le 21.10.09

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