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Greco-Turkish relations

Greco-Turkish Relations

Greece and Turkey still have problems. They have unresolved issues regarding the Aegean maritime boundary, the treatment of the Orthodox Church and Greek minority in Istanbul, and the Muslim minority in western Thrace. The largest source of tension in their relationship since 1974 has been the Cyprus conflict that despite the various efforts over the years to get the issue resolved on a bizonal, bicommunal basis has failed. The latest attempt was the Annan Plan which was warmly rejected by Greek Cypriots in March 2004. Turkish Cypriots voted in favor of the plan and both Greece and Turkey expressed their approval. The Republic of Cyprus entered the European Union on 1st May 2004 as a divided island. The UN is currently assessing whether the political will exists among the interested parties to restart negotiations.
The past three decades, tensions between Greece and Turkey have almost reached the point of armed conflict. In 1996, President Clinton intervened to help avert a possible armed exchange after Greek and Turkish journalists generated a dispute over ownership of a tiny, uninhabited but strategically located islet called Imia (Kardak in Turkish). A significant breakthrough in relations took place when major earthquakes hit Turkey and Greece in 1999. Both countries and peoples responded generously to the other's need, helping turn around official perceptions that rapprochement was too risky politically. Since that time, Greek and Turkish Foreign Ministers have increased the quantity and quality of bilateral exchanges, both official and unofficial. However, the seriousness of the tensions is manifested by the fact that Turkey still maintains a list of issues that constitute casus belli in its relations with Greece.
Greece has supported Turkey's bid for candidacy to the European Union since the Helsinki European Union Summit in 1999. Despite continuing disagreements with Ankara over Cyprus and the Aegean, Greek opinion leaders across the political spectrum are convinced that Greece's long-term interests are best served by Turkey's successfully fulfilling the requirements for membership and joining the European Union. The European Union opened accession talks with Turkey on 3rd October 2005.
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