Athens hopes for stability in Turkey

Athens yesterday stressed its desire for an easing of tensions in neighboring Turkey where the Islamist-rooted government has been at loggerheads with the country’s secular forces. «Like all Europeans we want a stable, European and democratic Turkey,» Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said. Asked to comment on developments following the Turkish government’s decision to call for early elections, Bakoyannis simply noted: «We are following (developments) very closely and with great interest.» Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos echoed Bakoyannis’s statements. «The Greek government hopes that developments are in the direction of a European Turkey,» he said. Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis gave a more detailed, and upbeat, response. «We will back the verdict of the Turkish people and the Turkish national assembly and we will try to continue our discussions constructively in order to resolve issues that have troubled us for decades,» he said. According to Foreign Ministry sources, the political unrest in Turkey signals an impasse not only for bilateral relations but also for Turkey’s EU bid. «We hope for a swift normalization of the situation, which it appears will come about through early elections, which we hope will lead to a strong government, and a reliable interlocutor,» a ministry source said. Some diplomats have expressed concern that Turkish unrest could fuel disputes in the Aegean between Greece and Turkey.