Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu stated that Turkey wanted to have a strong, stable and prosperous Greece as her neighbor.
''I would like to express that we desire to see a strong, stable and prosperous neighbor by our side,'' said Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in a statement he gave to the Greek newspaper Kathimerini published in Athens.
Davutoglu stated that they knew the differences of opinion between Turkey and Greece and that the important point was whether these differences would be made permanent and turned into an obstacle like the Berlin Wall or not. A second option, as the Foreign Minister said, was to talk on the diversities and find a way to serve the common interests through a win-win strategy.
Davutoglu stated that there was strong expectations and advantages about the Aegean Sea and that the two countries have changed their methods and dispositions regarding their relations. ''We do not try to cope up with each other. We want to open up new horizons in our relations. We need to form a common schedule in the Turkish-Greek relations. As the Turkish government, our thesis is to perceive the expectations as an advantage. In this sense, the Aegean Sea is a sea for dialogue and friendship'' said Davutoglu.
-"No one can expect Turkey to be a land-locked country"-
Davutoglu expressed that the best way to solve the problems between the two countries lied in bilateral dialogue. He stated that the Aegean Sea, with its thousands of islands, formed a special situation and that it is a part of the Mediterranean Sea. ''We are respectful to the sovereignty rights of the two countries. The substantial issue is to reach a solution in this frame. Turkey has the longest coastline to the Mediterranean Sea. No one can expect Turkey to be a land-locked country,'' said Davutoglu. ''A solution could be found taking into account all these and Turkey's situation, being a country with the longest coastline to the Mediterranean. These are theses that do not omit each other. We can agree and all these can be an advantage.''
Davutoglu said that the differences between Turkey and Greece were rather psychological and that a logical and realistic solution could be found once the psychological obstacles were cleared.
25 new agreements have been signed at the meeting of the Turkey - Greece High Level Cooperation Council in Istanbul, said Davutoglu. He stated that the perception of the relations between the two countries did no longer rest upon who is stronger than the other. Davutoglu expressed that within the last two years that Greece has been undergoing an economic crisis, Turkey has not tried to take advantage of the situation, on the other hand, has put in efforts to help its neighbor. ''You should understand that when a neighbor of ours is weak or has problems, this also holds a problem for us. Some supporters of extremism in Greece or in Turkey may think that this is a zero sum game but I assure you that it is just the opposite,'' said Foreign Minister Davutoglu. He expressed that Turkey's efforts to help Greece through this process has also been appreciated in the Greek public opinion.
Governments do not have the right to impose religious issues on the minorities, said Davutoglu regarding a question asked about the law known as the ''240 Imam Act'', which has been approved in Greece a while ago. Davutoglu expressed that the Hellenic originated people living in Turkey and the Turkish originated people living in Greece formed the two sides of the issue. ''Turkey has never decided on itself about the patriarch election or the Synod in Istanbul. This is a matter of the Christians. Why should Turkey interfere? This is an issue of religious freedom and autonomy and it has been valid for the past five centuries. Why should we change this? This is their right, we do not interfere,'' said Davutoglu. ''Similarly, the Muslim Turks in Western Thrace or Rhodes form a congregation and have their own traditions. A Turk or Muslim can not insist by himself on what is good for a Christian Orthodox. The Greek government also can not know what is good or possible within the Islamic traditions. The Muslim Mufti should be autonomous like the Hellenic Patriarch. Basically, this is our requirement."
Regarding a question about the Halki Seminary in Heybeliada, Davutoglu said that the issue was discussed at the meeting with the Greek Foreign Minister. Davutoglu expressed that the Turkish government had returned all the assets of the Orthodox Church and other religious minorities, the orphanage and other assets valueing of millions of dollars. "Issues about the Muslim minority in Greece and the religious institutions are still being delayed but we do not anticipate reciprocity. We have done these without any hesitations because. It is our duty to correct if a mistake has been made in the past. Of course the same should be valid for the Muslim Turks in Greece," said Davutoglu.
-New Greek administration in Southern Cyprus-
The position of the new leader of the Greek Cypriot Administration, Nikos Anastasiadis, is different from the former leader Dimitris Hristofyas, said Davutoglu. He stated that Anastasiadis had two advantages. Of these advantages, one was that he had not inherited a ''no'' environment like Hristofyas had. And the other advantage was that Anastasiadis had voted ''yes'' at the 2004 referendum, which showed that Anastasiadis was ready to directly move forward for a resolution. Davutoglu expressed that Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and the Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopulos were seeking improvement on the resolution of the Cyprus issue.
Foreign Minister Davutoglu said that the water problem and the search for natural resources in Cyprus were common issues for both sides. The Foreign Minister stated that Turkey was going to supply northern Cyprus with water next year and southern Cyprus could also make use of this water but this would not occur if some supporters of extremism in southern Cyprus would think that Turkey caused a problem in the European Union perspective.
Turkey will not let the Greek Cypriots use the energy sources in a way to punish the Turkish Cypriots, said Davutoglu. ''This is not a threat. Both of the societies have the right to use the countries' natural resources. If an energy source will be located in Northern Cyprus in the future, Greek Cypriots would also have the right to use it."
Davutoglu said that the search for a resolution in Cyprus did not need to be on the grounds of the Annan Plan and that new methods leading to peace could be sought.