Turkey and Greece should open ‘channels of friendship’: Former minister
The relations between Ankara and Athens would improve via forthright communication despite controversial court rulings in both countries, Turkey’s former European Union Affairs Minister Egemen Bağış has said.
“For me there is only one way forward. Trustful relations, cooperation, opening channels of friendship and mutual understanding between our two nations,” he told Greek public news agency ANA-MPA, stating that he spoke in his personal capacity.
Referring to the recent release of two Greek soldiers who were held in a Turkish prison for more than five months on espionage charges, “The independent court of Turkey gave its decision about the case, which made all involved happy. If there is a message here, I think it is first a message of trust and friendship,” Bağış said.
On the other hand, he criticized the decision of the Greek Council of State that granted right of asylum to eight Turkish soldiers who had fled Turkey after the coup attempt on July 15, 2016 was defeated.
“The attitude of Greek judiciary regarding the 8 Gulenist terrorists who have been granted a safe haven in Greece is poisonous and damaging the motivations of optimists on both sides,” he said, referring to the outlawed network of the U.S. based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, who is widely believed to be behind the coup attempt.
When asked about the Turkish government’s efforts to break the ice with the European Union and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s planned visit to Germany next month, “Despite occasional ups and downs in the relationship Turkey and Germany do not have the luxury to ignore each other. Our economies are very much linked,” Bağış said.
“It is time for both Turkey and Europe to take pragmatic steps for rapprochement and to understand the sensitives of each other because Europe needs Turkey at least as much as Turkey needs EU,” he added.