NEWS

Bakoyannis reveals Turkey policy

Greece is basing its policy toward Turkey on the idea of reciprocity, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis told Greek ambassadors in Athens yesterday, saying she expected to see the benefits of this tactic soon. Bakoyannis told the ambassadors that Athens is basing its foreign policy on three main elements. Firstly, Greece will continue to support Turkey’s efforts to join the European Union but this did not mean that Athens was giving Ankara a blank check, the minister said. Bakoyannis said Greece hopes the EU’s fall review of Turkey’s progress in meeting accession targets will help put pressure on Ankara to comply with its commitment to open its ports and airports to Cypriot ships and airplanes. However, the foreign minister said that Athens is also working on an alternative policy in case Turkey fails to move forward in its drive to join the EU. Athens is also emphasizing the development of stronger economic ties, particularly in the energy sector. Bakoyannis said that people were wrong to underestimate the effectiveness of this policy and said that Greece had made great progress over the last two years in signing energy agreements, including with Turkey, and increasing its exports. Finally, the minister said Athens was avoiding actions that would provoke Turkey and instead was focusing on creating calm in the relations between the two countries so problems separating them could be solved more easily. «Greece is looking out for its interests, just like Turkey,» Bakoyannis told the Greek ambassadors from around the world. «Our interests are justice, respect for borders and sovereign rights, respect for the Patriarchate and its right to carry out its work, and respect for the Greek Orthodox minority [in Turkey] and its rights.» Meanwhile, Bakoyannis said that Greece would continue to seek a key role in the Middle East in the wake of its involvement with the humanitarian effort in Lebanon. «We will stay in the front line of countries who can and want to actively contribute to confronting the situation and creating a peaceful Middle East,» she said.