Papandreou broaches thorny bilateral issues with Turkish, Albanian leaders on sidelines of UN summit
Continuing a public relations drive in the US aimed at drumming up investment interest and attracting much-needed funding, Prime Minister George Papandreou has also held a series of meetings with regional leaders on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York to thrash out longstanding foreign policy problems.
Following talks late on Wednesday, Papandreou and Turkish President Abdullah Gul agreed that bilateral ties had improved in recent months following the establishment of a strategic council comprising ministers from both countries that is to convene annually. According to sources, the two men – both former foreign ministers – reported “satisfactory results” from the council’s first session. The leaders also discussed the latest United Nations-mediated drive to reunify Cyprus, which has foundered in recent months as Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias and hardline Turkish-Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu have failed to find common ground. Papandreou reportedly asked Gul to help push forward the peace process. The issue is expected to be on the agenda of talks in October, when Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is to visit Athens.
Papandreou also had talks with his Albanian counterpart Sali Berisha and agreed that bilateral relations remained good despite the murder last month of an ethnic Greek man in Himara, southern Albania, an attack that Berisha condemned.
Meanwhile, Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, who is in the US with Papandreou, expressed clear frustration at the failure of Nikola Gruevski, the prime minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), to visit New York. He and Papandreou had hoped to meet Gruevski for talks about an ongoing bilateral dispute regarding the Balkan country’s official name, particularly following Gruevski’s recent allegations regarding Greek “intransigence” in the negotiations. “If officials in Skopje invested all this time and energy on solving the problem at hand, rather than trying to score political points, we would be making a lot more progress,” Droutsas remarked.