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23 November, 1999
The development of business ties between Greece and Turkey can contribute to an improvement in relations between the two countries, said a joint communique by the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) and the Union of Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen (TUSIAD).
The full text of the statement, which was released after talks by the two groups in Athens yesterday, is as follows:
"Economic relations between Greece and Turkey have increased at a steady pace over the last decade, totalling 700 million euros in 1998.
"The signing of a customs union agreement by Turkey and the European Union in 1996 contributed to this progress.
"Under the right circumstances, the business communities of Greece and Turkey foresee greater possibilities for trade as well as for investment and business partnerships between the two countries.
"On the European level, the acceptance of Turkey as a candidate country for European Union enlargement would advance its internal efforts to satisfy the political and economic criteria for entry into the EU, in this way promoting effective solutions to the political problems existing between Greece and Turkey.
"In this direction, Turkey's application should be handled on an equal basis with every other similar application, regarding both the prospects and responsibilities of a candidate country," the communique concluded.
The statement was released after a visit by the Turkish business delegation to Athens whose members met Greek businessmen, National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, and Iason Stratos, president of the Federation of Greek Industry.
Political understanding needed, minister says:
Greek-Turkish business relations cannot prosper unless the two countries can reach a fundamental political understanding, despite a climate of goodwill in the private sector, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with a Turkish business delegation, Mr. Papantoniou said: "I had the opportunity to meet with the Turkish Businessmen's Union, which is linked to the Federation of Greek Industries, and discussed the framework of Greek-Turkish business cooperation."
The Greek government has begun a "low-level policy" dialogue with Turkey covering tourism, commerce and economic cooperation.
"I believe that there are substantial prospects to further develop bilateral relations. The liberalization of markets in the Balkans and the Black Sea region offers opportunities for major cooperation between Greece and Turkey," Mr. Papantoniou said.
He noted, however, political limitations to bilateral business cooperation "linked to Turkey's unacceptable claims towards Greece.
As long as these problems remain unresolved, a positive climate in the private sector will not be able to prosper on its own".
The minister added that there were clear-cut, fundamental conditions to promote bilateral economic relations, but also needed was a fundamental political understanding "which calls on Turkey to abandon its unacceptable positions so far".
Source: Athens News Agency