NEWS

Samaras and Erdogan at loggerheads over Cyprus

A meeting on Friday between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Turkey’s new president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Wales achieved little other than underlining their radically different positions on the Cyprus problem, Kathimerini understands.

The meeting, which took place in the wake of provocative statements by Erdogan in the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus, lasted 50 minutes and was said to be tense. Erdogan is believed to have repeated his calls for a “two-state solution” for divided Cyprus, despite the fact that new United Nations-mediated peace talks are ostensibly aimed at reunifying Cyprus as a “bizonal, bicommunal federation.” According to sources, Samaras said Erdogan’s statements were torpedoing peace talks and undermining prospects for a settlement. The Greek premier also referred to recent Turkish violations in the Aegean, saying that they were poisoning bilateral ties.

Diplomatic sources expressed concern about Erdogan’s stance, describing the new development as “very important and very worrying.”

Samaras, for his part, is said to have reiterated Greece’s unconditional support for Nicosia and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades in the negotiations and to have emphasized the need for a settlement to the Cyprus problem to be in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions.

“Well Mr President, we are faced with a real problem here, a real difference of opinion,” Samaras is said to have told Erdogan.

According to sources, Erdogan asked Samaras for a briefing on the outcome of a Greek anti-racism law, whose articles are to be voted on in Parliament on Tuesday, expressing concern about a possible negative impact on Greek-Turkish relations.Turkey has consistently challenged the use of the word genocide to define mass killings of Christians populations.

The Greek premier was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos and government spokeswoman Sofia Voultepsi during his meeting with Erdogan, while the latter was flanked by two senior Turkish diplomats.

One thing that was agreed in the meeting, according to sources, is that Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will visit Greece in late November.

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