Visiting Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu stressed on Tuesday that Ankara was serious about improving ties with Athens and emphasized that Turkey was not questioning Greece’s sovereign rights to the island of Kastelorizo.
Responding to reporters' questions following talks with Prime Minister George Papandreou and with his Greek counterpart Dimitris Droutsas, Davutolgu clarified that in an interview with Kathimerini where he suggested that the island formed part of the Mediterranean rather than the Aegean he was merely making a geographical distinction, not challenging Greece’s rights to the island. «Of course Kastelorizo is a Greek island. There is no issue of its status being disputed,» Davutoglu said.
“In the very near future everyone will be able to see proof of the excellent cooperation between Greece and Turkey,” the Turkish minister added following his talks with Greek government officials which focused on the progress of exploratory talks on issue of bilateral concern.
The Turkish FM added that he wanted to send out “a message of friendship, good neighborliness and common fate.”
Droutsas took the opportunity to press Davutoglu on Turkey’s failure to honor a pact for the repatriation of undocumented immigrants, signed between Ankara and the European Union in Brussels in January. “We welcome it and I hope this agreement will soon be implemented,” Droutsas told reporters.
Turkish Foreign Ministry statements in recent weeks have linked Ankara’s enforcement of the pact to the relaxation of visa laws for Turkish citizens traveling within the EU. Davutoglu highlighted “our deep disappointment about the visa applications. “We want everyone to travel freely between Turkey and Greece and between Turkey and EU countries and get to know each other better,” Davutoglu said.
Droutsas said he backed the visa talks.
The two ministers also agreed that their two countries would cooperate in providing humanitarian aid to strife-torn Libya.