NEWS

PM seeks progress with neighbors

As Prime Minister George Papandreou declared yesterday that the time is right for progress in a range of bilateral disputes involving Greece and its neighbors, a spokesperson for the leader of the Turkish community on Cyprus called on Greece to provide «strong support» for talks aimed at breaking the deadlock on the divided island. Speaking during an official visit to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, Papandreou reiterated appeals that he had made in a letter sent on Monday to his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for closer cooperation between Athens and Ankara to scale down tensions in the Aegean and resolve outstanding disputes. The Greek premier stressed that Turkey’s aggressive behavior in the Aegean, with Turkish jets continuing to violate Greek air space, had to stop if relations are to improve. Papandreou also emphasized the importance of a settlement being found to the Cyprus problem. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Mehmet Ali Talat, the Turkish-Cypriot leader, called on the Greek government to take a more active stance in promoting the process of ongoing peace talks on the island. «If Greece does not undertake its responsibilities, it will not be part of the process toward finding a solution,» said Hasan Ercakica. The spokesperson added that Greek authorities should show «the necessary courage.» In a related development, Erdogan reportedly welcomed the letter he received from Papandreou – proposing a bilateral initiative to improve ties – and described it as «a promise of hope for a solution to our problems.» Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the letter indicated «good intentions and political will,» but he added that «both sides have political will and points of convergence… the point is to be able to discuss these issues.»