Prime Ministers of Greece and Turkey meet in Thessalonika

Thursday, May 4, 2006

The Greek Premier Kostas Caramanlis and his counterpart of Turkey, Rejep Tayyip Erdogan, had a meeting, for 45 minutes, in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, in the sidelines of the Inter-Balkan Cooperation Summit. Caramanlis and Erdogan had the opportunity to discuss the bilateral issues between Greece and Turkey, such as the Cyprus Issue, the dispute between the two countries in the area of Aegean Sea as well as the process of Turkey's efforts to become a member of the European Union. Today, the Prime Minister of Turkey will have the opportunity to visit the Turkish Consulate of Thessaloniki; the house in which the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, was born.

Except from the Caramanlis-Erdogan meeting, important discussions took place in Thessaloniki between the leaders of Southeast Europe countries. The Bulgarian Prime Minister denied the reports in Bulgarian Media, whereby the Bulgarian public sector was backing out of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipe construction. In addition, the leaders welcomed the signing of the agreement for constructing a state-of-the-art railroad network in Southeast Europe, which as he said, would modernise rail transport, reduce travel time and increase the quality of the services provided in the region.

Japan, a major contributor to Balkan reconstruction projects, has guest status at the meeting, represented by Deputy Foreign Minister, Akiko Yamanaka. The Summit focused on the European prospects of the Southeast European countries, economic relations, the issue with Kosovo, and the political crisis in Serbia, following the failed arrest of wanted General Mladic and the freezing of negotiations with the European Union.