Turkey postpones pursuit of Greek debt in good will gesture

Ankara has postponed the pursuit of a Greek debt of around $300 million arising from a natural gas purchase from Turkey, as Turkey ruled out the suggestion that payment of the debt may be in the form of real estate as inappropriate.

Energy Minister Taner Yıldız stated that Turkey was not going to exercise its right to arbitration and will postpone recovery of the Greek debt until Greece gains financial stability, according to a report in the Vatan newspaper on Sunday. The minister ruled out the suggestion by international institutions that Greece could pay off its debt in the form of real estate, meaning the sale of Greek islands in the Aegean. Yıldız said such a move “would be taking advantage of a country, particularly a neighboring one, at a very difficult time.”

Yıldız suggested that relations between Turkey and Greece are beyond financial concern. He considered the Turkish move “an opportunity to erase the negative chapters in the history of relations between the two countries” and expressed the belief that both sides would make good use of the chance presented by Turkey.

Greece is reported to be in contact with Turkey’s state-owned Turkish Pipeline Corporation (BOTAŞ) to make an arrangement for payment of the debt, which has been outstanding for 10 months now. The Turkish government waived its right to be compensated for the Greek debt in order not to further damage the neighboring country’s economy, which is already strained with international loans. Greece is expected to outline a plan for payment and issue a statement of intention saying the country will make the payment in the future.



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