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Highlights of the statements of Foreign Minister Avramopoulos and his Turkish counterpart A. Davutoglu at their joint press conference in Ankara

Sunday, 17 February 2013

A. DAVUTOGLU (translated from the transcript of the Greek interpretation):

•    I feel great satisfaction and pleasure at the fact that we are hosting Foreign Minister Avramopoulos here today. Every visitor from our neighbouring friend Greece to our country is important to us. But Dimitris Avramopoulos’s position is special. Of course, all the friends who come from the Foreign Minister have a special place, but for me, Dimitris Avramopoulos’s place, both as a friend and a Foreign Minister, is different.

•    I saw this in my own visit to Athens this past October, in the hospitality and friendship I experienced, and I felt as if I were in Istanbul. Particularly in the Palaio Faliro area, where the people hail from Istanbul.

•    Now I am sure that he too felt at home here, as he said. This friendship and sincerity prevailed today, too, both in our one-on-one talks and the talks between the delegations, as well as in the meeting with the Prime Minister.

•    In Greek-Turkish relations, in the positive sense, a psychological change and a reform are prevailing, and due to this fact, we feel great pleasure, because we believe that this is a good message to the people.

•    Today’s visit is in reciprocation of the visit I carried out to Greece last year. The purpose of this visit is to prepare for the High Level Cooperation Council that is to take place on 4 and 5 March, in Istanbul.

•    In the meetings we had today, we looked at the preparations for the Council. We agreed on many agreements that will be signed during the Council, and negotiations on a few more are continuing. Hopefully we will be able to sign more agreements than we did on 15 May 2010, in Athens.

•    At least 10 Ministers from each side will take part in this Council, and this number may increase. There will be a Summit Meeting, presided over by the two Prime Ministers. But the substance of our proceedings is the beginning of a new era that will bring the peoples of the two countries closer together and increase the friendship between them, transforming the Aegean into a lake of friendship.

•    At this time, our volume of trade has gone from $4.1 billion to $4.9 billion. With these agreements, our goal is for this to reach $10 billion in the coming period. That is why Prime Minister Samaras and my friend Mr. Avramopoulos will be coming to Istanbul with a delegation of entrepreneurs. I would like to stress that all of these proceedings will increase the two peoples’ and the two countries’ awareness of their shared fate. Together we will overcome the distress we are facing and we will share our common visions and our joys.

•    In this context, today we talked broadly about our common continent, Europe, and the future of the European Union, and in fact we said that if Istanbul and Athens are left out of European history, the history of Europe cannot be written.

•    I briefed him on the meeting with French Foreign Minister Fabius and I thanked Mr. Avramopoulos for Greece’s support. Regarding the future of Europe, I also told him that we are prepared to work together to present the common perspective of our countries in the EU. We believe that these common perspectives of Greece and Turkey will open new horizons in Europe.

•    We also discussed the recent developments in the Balkans, the Mediterranean and the Middle East. We reaffirmed our common view on the finding of a solution through peaceful means for the problems pending in the Balkans. We also shared our views on the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Again, I welcome my dear friend.

D. AVRAMOPOULOS:

•    I must say that the meeting I had today with my good friend Ahmet, and earlier, with the Prime Minister of Turkey, my old friend Tayyip Erdogan, makes me believe that we are now on a much better road than we were before.

•    I am sure that you who are here at this joint press conference Ahmet and I are giving feel the climate, the atmosphere accompanying my visit here today. For a long time now we have had a channel of communication that enables us to speak frankly, sincerely, in good faith, with trust and friendship.

•    So I am here today in response to the invitation of Ahmet Davutoglu, reciprocating the visit he paid to Athens a few months ago. The purpose of this visit was to set the timeframe and the framework for the very important meeting of the two governments, which will take place, as Ahmet said, in Istanbul, on 4 and 5 March.

•    The two Foreign Ministries are responsible for and have the mandate of the two Prime Ministers to prepare for this meeting.

•    The agenda, which had already been under preparation, was extended and strengthened even further following these latest meetings, opening up a broad range of issues that we will discuss. We will sign a large number of agreements that will even further enhance the ties of friendship and cooperation between the two countries.

•    The success of this meeting will strengthen our relations and communication even further, and will create, will lay the foundations for, new cooperation in various sectors that will be mutually beneficial for Greece and Turkey.

•    Without ignoring the difficulties and problems that exist, we choose to invest in the potential we have already created for substantial cooperation between the two countries.

•    And this – on both a bilateral level as well as within the broader framework of our neighbourhood – is a choice that both countries are determined to follow through on so that the wider region of Southeast Europe can become an oasis, a model of stability, friendship and cooperation.

•    I need hardly repeat, once again, that Greece supports your country’s European perspective. A perspective that should be founded on the principles of the European acquis, on respect for international law and the national sovereignty of all the countries in our region.

•    I have always believed that one of the fundamental principles on which good neighbourly relations between neighbours are founded is mutual respect, and we must move into the future guided by this principle.

•    This reflects the deepest desires of our two peoples, who want us to exhaust every effort to consolidate good neighbourly relations, friendship, cooperation and understanding. And all of this in service of a further goal: the shaping of an environment of security while creating conditions of prosperity for our two peoples.

•    That is why the agenda for the Summit Meeting that is to take place in Istanbul on 4 and 5 March is topped by issues like the economy, development, investment, education, culture, tourism, justice, health, and combatting illegal migration.

•    In other words, we think of this mechanism as a vehicle for better planning and more effective strengthening of bilateral cooperation on day-to-day policy issues; issues on which the two peoples meet. Because the more we deepen these relations between our peoples, the stronger the message is to their leaders.

•    In parallel with what I have described so far, and as Mr. Davutoglu told you, there will also be a business forum, which will bring the business and investment communities of the two countries closer together so that in the years to come we can increase cooperation indicators even further and outperform the numbers Ahmet just mentioned to you.

•    I would like to note here that the business communities of the two countries have proved to be much more courageous for many years now, and they have already taken spectacular steps forward. They left behind the prejudices and stereotypes of the past. Local administrations have done the same.

•    And you will allow me here to make a special reference, because it comes from my own memories: when these two great and historic cities, Istanbul and Athens, stood close to one another in difficult times. This is the spirit in which the 5 March meeting will take place. These are the instructions our Prime Ministers have given us. We believe that this is what our peoples want.

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