Turkey-Greece Relations in 2009 January 15, 2010Posted by Yilan in Human rights abuses, Turkey, Yunanistan.
Tags: Turkiye, Yunanistan
Political relations between Turkey and Greece were generally stable in 2009.
Bilateral relations revived following the Turkish local elections in March and Greek general elections in October and the election of George Papandreou –who was the architect of close relations between Turkey and Greece together with one of Turkey’s former foreign ministers Ismail Cem– as prime minister.
After the elections, Papandreou paid his first foreign visit to Turkey and held a long bilateral talk with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul.
Following the visit of Papandreou, Erdogan sent Athens a letter “recommending a comprehensive dialogue on all matters”, and then Turkish State Minister & Chief Negotiator for EU talks Egemen Bagis visited Greece, met with Papandreou and several Greek ministers, and said that he had the impression that Athens was positive.
After Bagis paid his visit to Athens on November 5 and 6, several Greek officials stated that Greece was approaching the recommendation of Turkey cautiously.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu visited Athens in December to attend the Organization for Security & Cooperation for Europe (OSCE) meeting, and met with Papandreou. Davutoglu gave positive messages about the future of Turkey-Greece relations. He said that high-level political dialogue would continue increasingly, and economic relations would be strengthened while measures would be taken to further develop the cultural relations.
Issues about special rights of Turkish minority in Western Thrace –such as education, freedom of religion and management of foundations set by international agreements– were stagnant in 2009.
Several arrangements were made on “erasing tax debts of minority foundations and making legal arrangements on management” within the scope of the reform package announced by Greece’s former foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis during her visit to Komotini in 2007; however, the law has not been put into effect yet.
Leaders of Turkish minority said that the legal arrangements about minority rights did not take sensitivities of Turkish minority into consideration. Athens also continued its policy of not recognizing the elected muftis of minority.
The church –which was started to be built illegally on a land belonging to Yanikkoy (Nimfea) Mosque Foundation in Komotini– caused a property discussion between the foundation management and the regional secretariat general of Eastern Macedonia & Thrace.
Turkish minority sent two representatives to Greek Parliament in early elections in October. In 2007 elections, PASOK candidates Ahmet Haciosman from Rodopi and Cetin Mandaci from Xanthi had entered the Greek Parliament.