Greek, Turkish PMs see benefits in improved ties

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Turkish Premier Ahmet Davutoglu are expected to issue a joint statement on Saturday, at the end of the latter’s two-day visit to Athens, following what appears to have been a productive day of talks on Friday.

Foreign Ministry sources told Kathimerini that they were fairly satisfied that the talks between Samaras and Davutoglu, as well as foreign ministers Evangelos Venizelos and Mevlut Cavusoglu, indicated that there is a basis for the recent tension between the two countries to deescalate.

A range of issues were raised during the talks but the Greek side made it clear that differences over Cyprus were key to bridging the gaps between Athens and Ankara. The issue of the presence of Turkish research vessel Barbaros in Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone was raised by Samaras during the discussions.

The two men appeared at a Greek-Turkish business forum after their meeting. There, Davutoglu appeared upbeat on the possibility of a compromise being found and reunification talks on Cyprus resuming.

“We do not want tension in the Aegean or the Eastern Mediterranean,” said Davutoglu. “We want to be able to discuss differences when they arise and search for a solution.”

The Turkish prime minister suggested that all sides could benefit from finding common ground on Cyprus, which is currently exploring for hydrocarbons in its maritime zone.

“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,” said the Turkish premier.

Samaras also focused on the economic benefits of better relations between the two countries, suggesting that there could be an increase in the value of annual bilateral trade, which currently stands at 4.8 billion euros.

“Our aim is to bolster Greek-Turkish relations and, within this framework to grow our trade and economic relations,” said Samaras. “Our targets are stability and trust, which bring growth.”

Talks between Greek and Turkish officials, as part of the third High-Level Cooperation Council held by the two countries, are due to continue on Saturday. Davutoglu is also scheduled to meet SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras before he leaves Athens.