Zero Problems with Greece: Grounds for Optimism
The almost 30-year period of friendly relations, based on the idea of an Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean balance between Turkey and Greece, was established on the basis of a set of treaties and conventions signed with the allies of WWI after the Turco-Greek War of 1919- 1922. Greek Cypriot demands for independence from British colonial rule in Cyprus were seen by the Turks as undermining this balance, and gradually brought the harmonious relationship to an end. In early 1999, Georgios Papandreou, who favored a rapprochement with Turkey became the Foreign Minister of Greece. Papandreou’s desire for improved relations was reciprocated by the late Ismail Cem, Turkey’s foreign minister at the time. During a series of visits, the two worked together to transform the mood of Turkish-Greek relations into one of friendliness. While Cem’s departure from office after the 2002 elections did not prove critical, Papandreou’s departure after the 2004 elections ended the low-key diplomatic process for a time. Papandreou’s return to power in 2009, this time as prime minister, has led to the resumption of the quiet negotiation process.