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06 April, 2001
Foreign Minister George Papandreou arrived in Ankara on Thursday on a two-day working visit, conveying a message of peace and friendship to the Turkish people on behalf of the Greek people and the Greek government.
"I wish to convey to the friendly Turkish people a message of peace and friendship on behalf of the Greek people and the Greek government," Papandreou said at a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem at Ankara airport, adding that present-day conjunctures present a "historical opportunity for us to create a peaceful future for the two peoples."
Papandreou said "I am convinced that we have the opportunity to develop relations of good neighborliness and work for mutual development and social progress" and that "the message we are receiving from our peoples is constant and persistent: we want to be friends, we want to work together and we want to live in peace."
Papandreou said he is convinced a strong partnership relation between Greece and Turkey means stability for the wider region, it constitutes a guarantee for mutual progress and security and promotes the ability of the two countries' economies to be competitive and successful in a global economy.
"We have made real and realistic steps, we have set specific medium-term targets and we have laid the foundations to enable our relations to continue gradually and carefully," Papandreou said and added that "there are still some problems for which we have not found a solution, but we have created suitable conditions to have them resolved."
Papandreou further said certain doubts and fears exist which belong to the past, but an atmosphere of confidence has been created. He reiterated that Greece supports Turkey's accession to the European Union and expressed the support and solidarity of the Greek people and the Greek government for the economic crisis in Turkey to be overcome.
Papandreou also reiterated that the accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the EU constitutes a particular opportunity for Turkey.
On his part, Cem said "we achieved in a year what had not been achieved over the past 40 years" and added that artists, athletes, schoolchildren and mayors from the two countries meet on a daily basis and strengthen ties between Greece and Turkey.
"Our rapprochement is careful and reserved," Cem said and pointed out that "certain issues might appear at times, but we believe that we can overcome them."
Cem reiterated that Greece has proceeded with the issue of removing minefields on the Greek-Turkish border along the Evros River and stressed that Turkey will try in turn to promote the issue.
Cem also underlined that commercial transactions between the two countries neared one billion dollars in 2000 and expressed hope that these transactions will be improved even more in 2001.
Source: Athens News Agency