Papandreou seeks dialogue with Erdogan

Prime Minister George Papandreou, who is also foreign minister, yesterday reportedly appealed to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to participate in a joint initiative aimed at solving several thorny bilateral issues and scaling down tensions. In a five-page letter to Erdogan, dispatched via the Greek Embassy in Ankara in response to a missive received from the Turkish premier in November, Papandreou reportedly suggests that the two countries jointly approach the International Court of Justice at The Hague to solve an ongoing dispute regarding the delineation of the continental shelf. According to sources, Papandreou also suggests that Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu lay the groundwork for closer cooperation between the two countries. The two men will have an opportunity for informal talks on the sidelines of an international conference on Afghanistan in London on Thursday. In his letter, Papandreou reportedly also calls for a stop to violations of Greek air space by Turkish jets and Turkey’s search and rescue exercises in the Aegean, noting that «they do not help toward improving relations.» According to sources, the Greek premier responded to Erdogan’s repeated references to the presence of a «Turkish» minority in the northern region of Thrace, noting that the Greek State has the «exclusive responsibility of guaranteeing human rights for all Greek citizens irrespective of their religious beliefs and ethnic origin.» Greece recognizes only the presence of a Muslim minority in Thrace.

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