Greek, Turkish leaders hope for new start in bilateral ties

09:59, May 15, 2010      

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Greek President Karolos Papoulias and Prime Minister George Papandreou welcomed Turkish Premier Recep Tayip Erdogan here Friday, with both sides hailing the visit as "historic" and expected to open a new chapter in bilateral ties.

"I expect this visit will have a positive outcome and strengthen the climate of cooperation, friendship and good neighborliness that the peoples of our countries wish for," Papoulias said.

"I have visited Greece several times. I hope that this visit will have a different ending," replied the Turkish leader, who later held talks with his Greek counterpart, Papandreou.

Erdogan said he was being accompanied by a delegation of approximately 320 people, including 10 ministers, more than 100 businessmen and many journalists and he saw the visit as "extremely significant".

In the short discussion held in front of the cameras, Papandreou agreed that it could be deemed "historic" for Greek-Turkish relations.

During his two-day visit, Erdogan also visited the Speaker of the Greek parliament, Philippos Petsalnikos, and later in the afternoon he will join Papandreou at the opening session of the bilateral High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council.

The Council's first meeting is expected to end with the ratification of 21 agreements of cooperation in various sectors, such as the economy, energy, tourism, environment and culture.

Greece is facing a severe economic crisis and Turkey, which experienced similar tough periods almost a decade ago, proposed the creation of joint ventures in the Balkans and other countries of the eastern Mediterranean and eastern Europe.

"Today, we can set a good example of collaboration for other Balkan countries and the wider region," Erdogan said during a short statement upon his arrival at Athens International Airport.

However, not everyone agrees. On Friday evening, the Armenian and Kurdish communities in Greece, along with Greeks and Cypriots, Left party activists and far-right groups organized demonstrations in central Athens, protesting Erdogan's visit.

Source: Xinhua
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