Greek Deputy FM: "Aegean peace is now closer than last year"
With a functioning bilateral mechanism between Ankara and Athens in place for resolving disputes over the Aegean Sea, the two neighbors are closer than last year to reaching a deal, said a senior Greek official yesterday. According to Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis, the confidence and cooperation between Greece and Turkey enables them to say, "We see each other not as threats but as trustworthy partners that we can reasonably talk and resolve problems with." There is a need to reach "mutually acceptable solutions on the basis of international law" over the Aegean disputes, Kouvelis told the Anatolia news agency. "An agreement can be achieved," he said. "The confidence and good will have been noticed by the Turkish and Greek peoples. More and more mutual visits and communication between the two countries and their prime ministers have been a historic turning point. This is the only way to resolve issues." Asked if a solution to the Aegean disputes is near, Kouvelis said, "We believe that there is a mutual will to find a solution for the two countries; a mechanism has been established and confidence exists as well. A solution is closer than it was last year." Kouvelis also said investments by Greek businessmen in Turkey currently total over 5 billion euros ($6.9 billion) and that this will grow even higher. Speaking at the Turkish-Greek Business Forum in Istanbul, Kouvelis stressed the importance of cooperation for getting the most out of the tourism and real estate sectors in both countries. Over the last decade bilateral trade has risen from $1 billion to $3.5 billion thanks to Turkish-Greek cooperation, he said, adding that more cooperation will mean more trade.