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Declaration of Greek & Turkish Friendship – 1997

We, AEGEE members AND young people of Greece and Turkey

  • aware of our past and history,
  • recognising the differences and the common elements of our national identities,
  • aspiring to a peaceful coexistence and cooperation of our countries in the future,

hereby declare

  • our awareness that between the two countries there are disputes;
  • our strong belief that these disputes derive primarily from aggressive claims on sovereignty rights, prejudices that were spread throughout the peoples in the past, and the infringement of international treaties whenever it happens;
  • our certainty that solutions to every dispute must be political and based on mutual respect, sincere intentions & good will, gradual dialogue, and international law;
  • our condemnation of the use of war and violence along with the outburst of irresponsible threats against national integrity as a means of resolution of disputes;
  • our belief that the two countries must get to know and help each other for symmetrical social progress, economic development and improvement in the field of human rights;
  • our faith in the fact that although the two nations have important differences in their civilisation and misfortunate history, the common elements in their culture could sustain the basis for building a «bridge of friendship» between the two countries.

AEGEE PROPOSALS ON 12 SOCIAL SECTIONS

EDUCATION

On the topic of language courses (Greek in Turkey and Turkish in Greece); we believe that courses should be instigated with the initiative of the embassies of our countries. Furthermore, the publication of new, improved course books and dictionaries in various sizes and the formal certification of studies are instrumental for the promotion of language courses. In the Higher Education, exchange programmes between universities should be launched and intensified and students of each country should be motivated to study in the other country. It is also meaningful to have exchange programmes of teachers & students in schools (secondary education) between cities in the Turkish coastline and the Greek islands. Apart from that, history foundations of the two countries should co-operate on the writing of regional history books. Last but not least, the Orthodox Theological School in the island of Chalki, Turkey, should be allowed to offer courses again.

ENVIRONMENT

  • Co-operation between the municipalities of the cities of the Turkish coastline and the Greek islands for waste-water treatment;
  • Stricter legislation of the protection of environment (i.e.: industrial pollution, Ramsar convention);
  • Furthermore, NGOs should co-operate for common action like campaigns. Objective of these campaigns could be the banning of any nuclear plants and nuclear wastes treatment units. Next to these, in case of shortage of water during summertime, then the one side should supply water to the other.

SPORTS

University games could serve as a first step for the organisation of Balkan Games of Universities and tournaments between teams (i.e. in football etc.) as a first step for the organisation of general Greek-Turkish Friendship Games. Moreover, the two countries could organise together international championships.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Co-operation between universities in research is essential, especially on renewable energy and the handling of earthquakes, subjects concerning both countries. One step in this direction can be scholarship programmes for researchers with the purpose of exchanging scientific personnel. Furthermore, joint scientific contests in the primary & secondary education could serve as a preparatory stage for the above mentioned exchange. Another common problem our countries can co-operate on is the disease of Mediterranean anemia, which could be one of the objects of a joint Health Institute.

MASS MEDIA

  • Avoid prejudiced, hostile phrases and manners in the press;
  • Periodical summits of journalists of the two countries;
  • Articles of journalists of one country appearing translated in newspapers of the other;
  • Establishment of common bilingual newspapers;
  • Establishment of common www-pages (e.g., by youth organisations).

ART, CULTURE & CIVILISATION

Due to the co-existence of the two nations for centuries, their cultures progressed together and influenced each other. So, promotion and systematically research on the common elements of culture would give remarkable results. However, historical & cultural bonds were forged also through the development of a branch of the ancient Greek, Ottoman and Byzantine civilisation in cities of Asia Minor and other parts of today’s Turkey and Greece. All monuments and sites of such a historical value for the whole world (i.e. Agia Sofia, ancient theatres, mosques), that were created in the latter mentioned times, should be jointly, by the creating and the hosting side, preserved and restored. Next to these, exhibitions, translation of literature and concerts of artists (i.e. musicians) can introduce the culture of their country to the people of the other. This could also be achieved through Balkan festivals of music, cinema, theatre etc.

YOUTH

Young people should be encouraged to meet each other. This can be implemented with summer camps for students of the secondary education, the initiation of voluntary work, creation of pen-friendship programmes and various contests with free visits to the other country as prizes. Moreover, the bonds between Greek & Turkish youth can be strengthened with joint projects such as a «Youth Parliament» established by the National Parliaments. Young people from the secondary education could meet and discuss in few-day meetings. Another issue is the establishment of National Youth Council in Turkey with the help of the newly built Hellenic Youth Council. Last but not least, annual conferences of NGOs of the two countries should be held in order to discuss and find new ways of co-operation.

TOURISM

The most important action that should be taken for the increase of tourism in our countries is the elimination of bilateral negative propaganda and the preparation of co-operative, common programmes in the region. The improvement and facilitating of transportation between Greece and Turkey (esp. trains and ferries) and the reduction of formalities for Greek islanders to visit Turkey could be an extra motive for people to visit each other’s country. Another interesting idea would be to organise tourist programmes with adventure games in appropriate sites of natural beauty in both countries.

SOCIAL PROBLEMS

  • Common action, such as campaigns, lectures, congresses, on drugs and AIDS;
  • Lobbying and pressure on governments by youth organisations and all NGOs for unemployment;
  • Co-operation of women’s organisations for women’s rights and organisations on human rights for better human rights;
  • Joint forces for the handling of natural disasters, such as fires and earthquakes.

POLITICS

  • No war threats as a means of solving disputes & no-attack treaty;
  • Sisterships between cities;
  • Refunctioning of the Greek-Turkish Friendship Foundation in Greece;
  • Establishment of a red-phone line between high governmental officials;
  • Applied respect of borders (i.e. airplanes’ violations);
  • Summits of prime ministers;
  • No political exploitation of international relations in order to distract public opinion from internal problems;
  • Turkey to accept the Patriarch as spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians all over the world & facilitate all functions of the Patriarchate.

ECONOMY

  • Barriers against businessmen of both countries for investments should be lifted.
  • Joint ventures for business between ourselves & in other countries.
  • Co-operation between unions for the improvement of the status of workers.

MILITARY

First step of good will for both countries is the canceling of attacking parts and weapons of their armies at the coastline and islands of the Aegean sea and the river Evros/Meriç. Furthermore, it is of prime importance that the military not interfere in any case in politics. In the Cyprus issue, both countries should pull off their army. The army of Cyprus should consist in the future of Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots (not Turks) in a fair rate decided by themselves, e.g. 50% – 50%.

Europeanly yours,
Stelios Mystakidis, President of AEGEE-Athina, April 23, 1997

Drawn out of the results of the workshop “Building the Bridge of Friendship” during the Exchange between Athina & Istanbul