TODAY.AZ / Politics

Greece's former foreign minister joins hundreds of Turks at ex-minister Cem's funeral

26 January 2007 [16:45] - TODAY.AZ
Hundreds of people, including Greece's former Foreign Minister George Papandreou, crammed to the courtyard of a mosque Friday for the funeral of Ismail Cem, a charismatic former foreign minister who died after a battle with lung cancer, aged 67.

Cem, who died Wednesday, served as foreign minister under three successive governments between 1997 and 2003, becoming one of the longest-serving Turkish foreign ministers in recent years. His greatest achievement was forging a rapprochement with Turkey's traditional rival, Greece.

Buoyed by the outpouring of mutual sympathy following successive fatal earthquakes in Greece and Turkey, Cem and Papandreou initiated confidence-building measures to mend fences between the neighbors that had nearly gone to war three times in the past 40 years.

The rapprochement culminated in a series of agreements to cooperate in culture, the economy and combatting crime, and pledges to work toward tackling the more difficult territorial disputes in the Aegean.

Mourners applauded as Cem's hearse left the mosque for the graveyard, after prayers also attended by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Well-wishers also applauded Papandreou, who is now leader of Greece's main opposition Socialist party, as he left the mosque. The Associated Press

/The International Herald Tribune/


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