[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 October, 2003, 21:35 GMT 22:35 UK
Turkey-Greece tensions 'over'

By Richard Galpin
BBC Athens correspondent

The Turkish Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gul, has said that long-standing tensions with neighbouring Greece are a thing of the past and their relations are now governed by a climate of friendship and trust.

Abdullah Gul (l) and George Papandreou
The two ministers have been keen to boost economic links
Mr Gul was speaking during his first official visit to Athens.

Over the past 30 years tensions between Greece and Turkey have brought them to the brink of war on three occasions.

The Turkish foreign minister's upbeat assessment was given at the end of his first day in Athens, after he had held several hours of official talks with his Greek counterpart George Papandreou.

No formal agreements have been signed, but the two foreign ministers did push forward measures to improve economic relations.

Pipeline plan

These include plans to link the natural gas networks so gas can be piped from Turkey to Greece and on to other European countries.

There is no doubt there has been a significant improvement in relations over the past four years, ever since earthquakes in both countries sparked a wave of mutual sympathy and co-operation.

But in reality, despite the rhetoric surrounding this latest visit, there has been little progress in resolving the big outstanding issues, in particular, the division of Cyprus and the disputed boundaries in the Aegean Sea.

On Cyprus the Greek foreign minister repeated there was now an historic opportunity to unite the island as it prepares to join the European Union next year and he said Turkey could play a determining role.

On Wednesday the Turkish foreign minister is due to hold further talks with Mr Papandreou and with the Greek prime minister before returning home.

The BBC's Richard Galpin reports from Athens
"Although relations now appear to be cosier, the two nations still have a long way to go"


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific