Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas (foto) on Friday repeated Athens’ desire to improve relations with neighbouring Turkey, reiterating support for Turkey’s prospects of becoming a full member of the European Union once it has met the terms and requirements for entry. Droutsas was speaking at a conference entitled “Greece-Turkey in the 21st Century”, organised by the Centre for Progressive Policy Studies, which was established by former minister Yiannos Papantoniou under the aegis of the Greek foreign ministry.
“We are exploring ways to enhance cooperation with Turkey, finding and creating opportunities to improve Greek and Turkish relations for the benefit of both countries,” Droutsas said, stressing Athens’s support for the reforms that will allow Turkey to become a full member of the EU.
He also pointed out that this would be a difficult and painful process for the neighbouring country:
“The Turkey that finally joins the EU will not be the Turkey of today, or that of the past. It will be a changed Turkey,” he emphasised, underlining that Greece would support this effort, both politically and practically, provided that Ankara normalised its relations with Cyprus in the direction of a viable, fair and European solution to the Cyprus issue, without occupation troops.
He also stressed the need for effective reforms for democratic modernisation within the country and the need for Turkey to fulfil obligations toward its Greek minority and the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Droutsas warned against “thoughtless behaviour, incompatible with international law” that would undermine Turkey’s efforts in this direction, calling for the creation of a centre of power and stability in the region.
The conference was opened by the centre’s chairman, Yiannos Papantoniou, who said its goal was not to rehash the past and highlight the differences existing between the two sides, which were in any case not overlooked, but to explore the possibilities for improving bilateral relations.
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