Former Greek prime Minister George Papandreou was honored in Turkey for his contribution to improving relations between Greece and Turkey and the promotion of peace.
At a ceremony in Istanbul he as presented an award by Ekrem İmamoğlu, the mayor of İstanbul’s Büyükçekmece district.
Among the audience at the ceremony was renowned Turkish composer Zulfu Livaneli, mayors, politicians and members of the academia.
Livaneli welcomed Papandreou to Istanbul saying that “he was the politician who changed the course of Greek-Turkish relations.”
In his acceptance speech, the former Greek leader dedicated the award to those who courageously opened the way for the cooperation of the two peoples.
He warned that “We must not regard peace as given. We need to maintain it, for the benefit of future generations.”
He also cautioned against “populist and extremist forces” in both countries that work to “undermine Greek-Turkish relations.”
Papandreou is regarded by many in Turkey as the architect of the two countries rapprochement in 1999 when as a foreign minister he initiated the disaster diplomacy following the deadly earthquakes in Greece and Turkey.
He has been a vocal supporter of Turkey’s bid to join the EU.
Last September, he urged European Union leaders to keep the doors open to Turkey and to continue the dialogue with the Turkish government.
“We need to keep the doors open for cooperation between Europe and Turkey … Keep the doors open for a European future for the Turkish people,” Papandreou had said.