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Lost in Agreements – PM Erdogan visits Athens

Erdogan & wife, Mikis Theodorakis, Papandreou & wife

Lost in Agreements – PM Erdogan visits Athens

With an aura of a Khan of broader Middle East and a strong delegation of 18 ministers and 300 businessmen Prime Minister of Turkey, Tayip Erdogan, arrived in Greece in an effort to boοst friendship and economic relations and help his debt-stricken neighbor, George Papandreou.

The visit is celebrated as ‘historic’ by media of both countries. And it is certainly historic, as never before a foreign leader had visited Athens with such an outnumbered delegation.

21 Agreements of Understanding and Cooperation in low-intensity policies were signed in fields of civil protection, education, energy, environment, culture, tourism, transport, investment and European Affairs.

Thorny issues, mainly territorial disputes like the  Turkish “casus belli”, the continental-self dispute, the Cyprus issue, the air violations over the Aegean Sea, or the Patriarchrights of Ecumenical ate were excluded from any Agreement or Memorandum.

Highlight of the meetings of PM Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart Erdogan was the call for mutual cuts in defense spending. A called first articulated back in 2004, when George Papandreou was Foreign Minister under the Simitis Government. A call that had found positive response by Papandreou’s then counterpart Abdullah Gul, now President of the Turkish Republic.

But while in Greece, politicians rule over the military, in Turkey it is set in the Constitution that the Chief General Staff  is above the Minister of Defense. Considering the hostility between the moderate Islamist Erdogan and the Kemalist Generals, cutting defense spending seems a difficult task for the Turkish PM.

So Greek and Turkish PM agreed to agree on ‘soft’ issues and let the ‘hard’ further hurdle their relations.  Papandreou and Erdogan got lost in 21 agreements but left out the essence.

So what was ‘historical’ in the visit?

the Wired Greek

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