Ankara firm on Aegean, Cyprus

Turkey has no intention of resorting to the use of force in the Aegean – but only as long as Greece does not exercise its right to extend its territorial waters, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul told Kathimerini English Edition during an exclusive interview in his Ankara office at the end of last week. Gul also said his government was not optimistic about a solution to the Cyprus problem and blamed Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos for urging Greek Cypriots to reject last year’s United Nations-backed plan to reunify the island – a blueprint which was accepted by the Turkish Cypriots. Questioned by reporters in Nicosia yesterday about Gul’s comments, Papadopoulos countered: «The acceptance of the Annan plan by the Turkish Cypriot side is hardly a great achievement as it was offering them everything.» During the interview, Gul, who is also Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister, said his country was keen to develop a closer cooperation with Greece and Cyprus as part of a regional unit within the European Union. «We are basically people of the same land. So we have the ability to understand each other,» he said. Asked about the Halki Orthodox Seminary, located on an island off Istanbul, Gul said he did not object to the reopening of the school, which has been closed for over 30 years.