By Renee Maltezou and Orhan Coskun
ATHENS / ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayip Erdogan
make a historic visit to Greece this week, a sign that relations
between the two countries are improving, although a long list of
the complaints remain on both sides.
Erdogan visited Greece as prime minister, in 2004 and 2010, but
he will be the first Turkish head of state to visit Athens from
Celal Bayar in 1952. He is also scheduled to visit Thrace in
the north of Greece, home of a large Muslim community.
Greece and Turkey reached the brink of war as recently as 1996,
but tensions have eased since then. The two now cooperate in a deal
negotiated between Ankara and the European Union on the mass of stem
Migration to Europe through Greece.
Turkey's ties with some other governments of the European Union are
however, so Erdogan's visit from December 7 to 8 will be
important for Athens. This will help ensure that communication
continues on the migration crisis and other bilateral issues.
"The issues that concern the two countries will be on the agenda of
talks – tensions in the Aegean Sea, the refugee crisis,
relationships with a focus on energy, commerce and transportation, "Greek
Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said.
"What we anticipate is a substantial improvement in our relationship
with Turkey … We are looking forward to very constructive talks. "
In Turkey, a government official said: "This will be a visit from
We expect solution to the problems. I think Erdogan and (Greek
Prime Minister Alexis) Tsipras will show a common will for the
solution to some of the problems. "
LONG COMPLAINT LIST
Disagreement especially, from uninhabited islets, airspace and the
boundaries of the continental shelf of Greece to the ethnic
divided island of Cyprus, the differences between the two countries
They have survived the Cold War.
None of these problems has ever been solved. The consequences of a
failed coup attempt against Erdogan in 2016 has also tested his
relations; while the blow was developing, eight Turkish commandos flew
in Greece to evade capture.
The Turkish government considers them as coup plotters and wants
Athens to deliver them. The Greek courts have blocked their
The senior Turkish official said that the terrorist groups were crossing towards
Greece from Turkey.
"The prevention of this is critical for Turkey", the official
He said. "Erdogan will ask for the extradition of these people,
starting with those who fled there with a helicopter
after the attempted coup. "
Greek police arrested nine suspected DHKP-C members last week,
a militant Marxist group that has claimed responsibility for
attacks in Turkey since 1990, including suicide attacks.
TIP-TOE AROUND CYPRUS
Thursday's visit takes place months after the peace talks in Cyprus
It broke in July. The talks are led by the two Cypriots
communities, but Greece and Turkey must agree to the future
security arrangements for the island.
"When the conversations ended, there were many bad feelings, so I was
A little surprised to hear about this visit. Positively surprised "
said James Ker-Lindsay, professor of politics and politics at St.
The University of Mary in London.
Cyprus remains divided between Greek and Turkish Cypriot
communities that live on both sides of a ceasefire monitored by the US
line. It is not clear if the peace talks between them will resume.
The Greek Cypriot presidential elections are scheduled for January
2018, and nothing will happen before that.
"I think that in terms of the symbolism of Erdogan in Athens, his
a good sign If we're going to get something out of that, I'm
is not safe. I do not want to exaggerate too much, "said Ker-Lindsay
(Written by Michele Kambas, Larry King edition)