Athens cool on Ankara rhetoric

Athens is intent on maintaining a low-key approach to its relations with Ankara and will not respond to what it feels are jibes from the Turkish side aimed at provoking a reaction from Greece, diplomatic sources told Kathimerini. This decision comes as the European Union’s Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn admitted that the union may face «a period of political tension» in its relations with Turkey and that the Commission was «working to avoid a train crash at the end of the year.» Athens feels that Ankara has become more outspoken recently, as demonstrated by a statement on Sunday by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticizing the Greek government for not allowing the Muslim minority in Thrace to elect their own representatives. «Greece is a modern, democratic country where there is equality before the law and respect for human rights,» responded Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis. Rounding off her trip to the USA on Monday night, Bakoyannis met with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and called for a new initiative to settle the future of Cyprus, which is a major sticking point in relations with Turkey. «A new effort is beginning with the technical meetings, which have to lead to a properly prepared new initiative for a viable and workable solution to the Cyprus problem,» said Bakoyannis, who is due to visit Nicosia next week.