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GreekReporter.comEuropeTurkish F.M. Defends Erdoğan's Comments to Papandreou

Turkish F.M. Defends Erdoğan’s Comments to Papandreou

Turkey’s Foreign Minister on Saturday said the criticism-laden rhetoric of the Greek Prime Minister reflected Greece’s well-known positions on long-running disputes between the two Aegean neighbors.  He defended the Turkish Prime Minister’s responses, saying they were the necessary statements.
“His messages were mostly about friendship and cooperation and the rest were Greece’s known positions,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told a news conference Saturday in the eastern Anatolian province of Erzurum.  The news conference was held during the closing of the weeklong conference of Turkey’s ambassadors from all over the world.

Davutoğlu was referring to critical comments from Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou on Friday during his address to the Turkish ambassadors.  He accused Turkey of being an occupying force in northern Cyprus and criticized Ankara for violating Greek air space, asking: “What is Turkey trying to prove?”

“Our position is clear. Mr. Prime Minister clearly expressed it,” said Davutoğlu in response to a question.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who took the same floor on Friday after his Greek counterpart, directed criticism at neighboring Greece through the EU and blamed the 27-nation bloc for testing Turkey’s patience. However, some critics said Erdoğan’s response was not tough enough compared to the heavily worded criticism from Papandreou.

“Erdoğan expressed his counterviews,” said Davutoğlu. He added that Papandreou could have delayed some of his statements during the conference, but discussing counter positions clearly could lead to beneficial consequences for the two sides.

The Foreign Minister referred to Erdoğan’s proposal to develop a new political language for the Turkish-Greek relationship.

“There can be occasions where positions are clearly expressed. We express our own views without any hesitation over their rightfulness and we listen to counterviews,” said Davutoğlu. “His presence proved useful. We live together in this geography. We will proceed on our paths by respecting our mutual principles.”

The Foreign Minister said the Turkish government was insistent on its “zero problems with neighbors” policy by minimizing disputes in relations.

Davutoğlu also responded to Papandreou’s criticism over the Cyprus problem.

“We are working for a fair and permanent solution. We will never allow any attempts to exert pressure by delaying negotiations (with the European Union),” he replied.

Davutoğlu expressed hope that the three-party talks set for Jan. 26th in Geneva including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and that the leaders of the Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities would bring concrete results.

Asked about Papandreou’s description of Turkey as an occupying force in Cyprus, Davutoğlu said: “The Prime Minister gave a very clear response. The response given through the EU is very clear.”

He said there was no contradiction between the friendly messages from the Prime Ministers and the criticisms they each offered.  This is because the exploratory talks regarding the countries’ Aegean problems and the negotiations to reunify Cyprus, would not be continuing now if there was full agreement on the disputes.

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