The increasingly aggressive tactics of Ankara -- in the Aegean but also vis-a-vis Cyprus, which is to assume the rotating presidency of the European Union on July 1 -- are worrying Greek government officials, who are closely monitoring developments amid fears of a freeze in Greek-Turkish relations, Kathimerini understands. An indication of the strain recent developments have put on ties is the fact that a decision has yet to be made on whether Foreign Minister Stavros Dimas will attend an international “Friends of Syria” conference in Istanbul on April 1. Before deciding whether to send Dimas to the conference, which aims to pressure the Syrian regime into stopping its bloody crackdown on opponents, Athens appears to be awaiting news on talks between EU and Turkish government officials. Meanwhile officials in Athens have been angered by reports that Ankara is planning to allow thousands of Greek-Cypriot refugees to return to the port of Famagusta, in the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus, from July 1, the date on which Nicosia is to assume the EU’s rotating presidency.
The reports, which were not denied by Ankara, provoked the angry response of Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Markoulli, who said such a move would be a “blatant violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.” As regards other reports, according to which Ankara is prepared to reopen a former Greek Orthodox seminary on an island off the Istanbul coast, officials in Athens were said to be skeptical. US President Barack Obama said on Sunday that he was “pleased to hear of [the] decision to reopen the Halki seminary.”
He was speaking after talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the eve of a two-day nuclear security summit in Seoul. Diplomatic sources told Kathimerini that Turkish authorities have been promising to open the seminary for years.