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TURKEY > Bağış invites Christofias on condition

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Bağış (C) says Greek and Turkish Cypriot
leaders should come to Turkey together.

Bağış (C) says Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders should come to Turkey together.

Turkey’s EU minister and chief accession negotiator, Egemen Bağış, has unofficially invited Greek Cyprus President Demetris Christofias to Istanbul – albeit with one condition: He must sit at the same table as his Turkish Cypriot counterpart.

Bağış told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday that Christofias was “looking for a reason to come to Istanbul” and that he should talk to Turkish Cypriot President Derviş Eroğlu about the possibility of coming to Istanbul to watch a Europa League game between Fenerbahçe and Greek Cypriot club AEL Limassol scheduled for Nov. 8.

“I will be happy to be the host provided that they will come together and sit at the same table,” Bağış said in a phone interview.

Football has played a significant role in Turkish foreign diplomacy in the past, with national team matches against Armenia in 2008 and 2009 paving the way for failed reconciliation efforts between the two countries.

Fenerbahçe, which was relegated to play in the Europa League after being knocked out of the Champions League playoff round on Aug. 29, was drawn in Group C of the competition along with AEL Limassol, France’s Olympic Marseille and Germany’s Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Fenerbahçe is scheduled to travel to Greek Cyprus on Oct. 25 and the experience might be difficult when considering Turkish clubs’ earlier visits to the island.

Bağış also highlighted the possibility of protests against the Turkish club. “When Galatasaray went there, they had major troubles,” Bağış said. “The problems they faced were the result of a non-state. Maybe they should seek help from Turkish Rep. of Northern Cyprus for the Fenerbahçe game.”

Last year, Galatasaray women’s volleyball team was subjected to debris thrown from the stands during a game with Apollon Limassol, and there were similar attacks during Pınar Karşıyaka’s basketball match against APOEL.

The minister made assurances that the Greek Cypriot team would not face such troubles in the game in Istanbul.

“They should not be worried, they will be hosted in Istanbul in the best way possible,” Bağış said. “I personally guarantee that there will not be any problem.”

It is too early to speculate whether the Europa League games between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot clubs could lead to a kind of “football diplomacy” similar to the one between Turkey and Armenia.

In September 2008, Abdullah Gül became the first Turkish president to visit Armenia when he traveled to Yerevan for a World Cup football qualifier. In the aftermath, the two countries agreed on a road map to re-establish diplomatic relations, including a plan to reopen the border.

An accord was signed by the foreign ministers of the two countries, Ahmet Davutoğlu and Eduard Nalbandian, on Oct. 10, 2009, in Zurich, and President Serzh Sargsyan subsequently returned the favor, traveling to Turkey to watch the teams’ second qualifier against each other four days later.

However, the reconciliation efforts were damaged in subsequent months when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkish ratification of the protocols depended on a peace deal in Nagorno-Karabakh. Sargsyan announced the suspension of the ratification process in April 2010 on a request from the ruling coalition.

September/03/2012

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READER COMMENTS

Notice on comments

DORUS LIVIS

9/4/2012 10:50:37 AM

@ilker: I write again due to censorship in my previous message. This humble feeling is only in your fantasy, you won't have the joy to see Greece down as you would like.

Stefanos Kalogirou

9/4/2012 12:05:35 AM

@ilker you are on planet turkey! 38 years of not recognition (not even by azeris) give you hope for future recognition! You boast of war and "rectifying" mistakes i.e occupying the whole island while the rest of the world knows that Turkey is a US puppet state. The US gave you the 33% of cyprus. Greece will not be let to leave the euro because GR will turn to Russia and then 3rd world war will begin from the aegean and east mediterranean. Turkey should be grateful to Greece for not turning to RU

Chris Green

9/3/2012 9:32:28 PM

Who the hell in their right minds wants to be an EU citizen?? In any event, neither Greece nor their infant, south Cyprus should be in the EU anyway! I wish the UK wasn't and sincerely hope that Turkey withdraw their application and simply trades! Cyprus is permanently divided and not a single TSK uniformed Mehmet will be driven out by the EU and certainly NOT the Greeks!

ilker avni

9/3/2012 7:31:58 PM

@ Nikos Greeks only are lease holders.Turks are the freeholders of the island,you will never find your missing persons because they buried in the sea. @ Stefanos The Turkish Soldiers are they to have a good HOLIDAY they dont occuppy? they own the Island.Remember how our nice genrous Turkish soldiers were when they gave you 70% of the island so i dont know why your complaining,we can take back land anytime we want.. @ Dorus livi Ha ha get used to it. its called being HUMBLE.!

ilker avni

9/3/2012 7:09:53 PM

Lets hope that the Greeks start another war,so that we can rectify Turkeys big mistake in 1974,when they gave back 70% of the island back to the Greeks.This time we should give the greeks 5% of the island,Give them a port and a airfield so they can leave by air and sea..Cyprus has been Turkish for five hundred years.

Nikos T.

9/3/2012 3:10:33 PM

Mr Bağış is practically unemployed due to Turkey's failure to respond to EU's entry rules, so he is practicing "cheap" foreign policy through football. I occupied by force half of your country, I won't give you your homes back, I won't even tell you where your missing people are buried.... but I want to see a football game with you. Just tragic.

DORUS LIVIS

9/3/2012 1:52:28 PM

I am really fed up with sentimentality in greco-turkish relations as well as the long-living mutuat distrust. I am even more fed up with some commentators who continue to mock Greece for the economic crisis. It is very cheap and boring as well.

The Prisoner

9/3/2012 12:53:23 PM

Has he been on the 'Cecil'?

Stefanos Kalogirou

9/3/2012 12:20:43 PM

"Now he doesn't know what to do anymore and start poking again...childish" spot on Johanna! "Some Turks really do live in a fantasy land." spot on JRC. The whole world is wrong for not recognizing TRNC (EU regards the region as occupied territory) and Turkey is right for recognizing a region that has practically annex since 1974. Turkish troops nowdays protect turkish cypriots from becoming EU citizens!

Johanna Dew

9/3/2012 11:09:25 AM

I am getting tired of the always presence of ''outward blaming'' in Turkish politics. Lack of self-reflection creates stagnation. Mr Bağis 'assume' that Christofas wants to visit Turkey. Read again: 'assumes'. And then the whole fanfare and blame game start over again while the same Bağis put EU-Turkey talks in the freezer. Now he doesn't know what to do anymore and start poking again...childish
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