Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Greek -Israel relations warming as Turkey strengthens links to Hamas and terrorist sponsors

From JPost, 21 July 2010, by HERB KEINON:

As a chill continues to blow through Israel’s ties with Ankara, those with Athens are warming considerably, as evidenced by Wednesday’s visit by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou.

..Papandreou, whose father, Andreas, served as prime minister of Greece twice (1981 to 1989, and 1993 to 1996) and was known for pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli leanings, has chartered a more moderate policy toward Israel than his predecessors since taking office last October.

...Once considered among the harshest critics of Israel inside the EU, along with countries such as Ireland, Sweden, Portugal and Belgium, Greece is no longer in that “basket,” one diplomatic official said.

Papandreou, whose 36- hour visit will be rich in symbolic gestures, is scheduled to arrive on Wednesday afternoon ...

People in government said there was no doubt that the recent tension with Turkey has led to a warming of the relationship between Israel and some of Turkey’s historic rivals, such as Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria. The Cypriot and Bulgarian foreign ministers paid visits to Israel earlier this year.

According to one diplomatic official, the Greeks – looking at the Israeli-Turkish, and Turkish-US tensions – are realizing that strategic alliances in the region are changing, and that this might be a good time to get closer to Israel as a way of warming ties with Washington.

...Ankara, meanwhile, has continued strengthening its relations with Hamas, with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu meeting Hamas chief Khalad Mashaal in Damascus on Monday.

According to the Turkish daily Hürriyet ...Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan [said that] Hamas was not a terrorist organization, but rather “a resistance group defending [its] territory.”

Davutoglu was in Damascus for half a day, during which he met Syrian President Bashar Assad and visiting Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
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