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Cablegate: Greek, Turkish Journalists Bring "Earthquake

VZCZCXRO8524
PP RUEHIK
DE RUEHTH #0842 1650958
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 130958Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY ATHENS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1988
INFO RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 5181
RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA PRIORITY 2949
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL PRIORITY 2026
RUEHIK/AMCONSUL THESSALONIKI PRIORITY 1891
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 0970
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUEHSQ/AMEMBASSY SKOPJE PRIORITY 1187
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 1023
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0258

UNCLAS ATHENS 000842

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KPAO TU GR
SUBJECT: GREEK, TURKISH JOURNALISTS BRING "EARTHQUAKE
DIPLOMACY" FULL CIRCLE IN CRETE


1. (SBU) Meeting for the fifth time since 1999's
"earthquake diplomacy" brought them together openly, some
70 members of the loosely-organized "Contact Group of Greek
and Turkish Journalists" spent the weekend of June 6-8 at a
luxury resort in Crete. Greece's Minister of Tourism (and
former government spokesman) Aris Spiliotopoulos sponsored
the event, with Turkey's Minister of State Mehmet Aydin.
The group is co-chaired ` hQess Courpiece of the Q by
Athens-based Kappa Q
public o0@reeks and Turks, alongside
a fair amount of curiosity about one another. For example,
only 13 percent of the Greeks felt that bilateral relations
would be "peaceful" and "cooperative" a decade from now,
versus 55 percent of Turks. Still, about a quarter of the
Greeks questioned had travelled to Turkey, and many more
said they would go to Istanbul by 2010, when it is the
designated European cultural capital. Among the few
surprises on foreign policy, the survey showed that 40
percent of the Turks questioned were ready to adopt
Greece?s position on the Macedonia name issue in exchange
for support of their own EU aspirations. On perceptions of
the media, identical percentages (54 and 56 percent) agreed
that what they read, hear, and see at home "cultivates
tensions." Support for meetings between journalists like
this one was slightly stronger on the Turkish side.

3. (SBU) Comment: Past such gatherings took place under
the sponsorship of the two countries' Foreign Ministers,
and these very senior, very seasoned Greek and Turkish
opinion makers were clearly quite comfortable together.
But fundamental philosophical differences remain. The
Greek journalists complained to us that their Turkish
counterparts won't engage politically; the Turks told us
that they just can't go there, being journalists rather
than politicians...especially now, given the uncertainty
about Turkey's domestic political situation and European
Union prospects. After nine years, this cycle of
"earthquake diplomacy" is complete, one of the Greek
organizers remarked, but it is not clear that the group
will move to register as an NGO anytime soon.

4. (U) Ambassador, IO, and Embassy Athens' senior
Information Specialist attended the event, while the
Russian and Chinese embassies regretted. The Turkish
Embassy press attache was present, but the country?s
Ambassador to Greece regretted. SPECKHARD

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