When Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), was arrested in February 1999 it marked a turning point in relations between Greece and Turkey. As the country's most wanted man, his arrest was greeted with jubilation throughout most of Turkey. However, it also led to a public outcry when it emerged that he had been captured leaving the Greek Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. This was seen as definitive proof that the Greek Government had been aiding and abetting the PKK. In the days and weeks that followed the arrest, relations between the Aegean neighbours sank to their lowest level since the summer of 1974, when Athens and Ankara had come to the brink of war over Cyprus. However, by the end of the year, the picture could not have been more different. An improbable series of events that included a regional conflict, two major disasters and the death of a senior Greek politician had led to a complete transformation in the relations between the two countries. Instead of proclaiming their historical enmity, people on both sides of the Aegean were now declaring their fraternal solidarity with one another. The crowning moment of this change came in December when Greece dropped its long-standing opposition to Turkish candidacy for EU membership. While the outstanding issues between the Aegean neighbours would still need to be solved - a task easier said than done - it nevertheless appeared as if a new era in relations had begun that had the potential to transform the situation in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region. How did this remarkable transformation come about? Who should take the credit? And what did it mean for diplomatic relations in the Eastern Mediterranean? This is the story of how two countries started down a path to peace after decades of tension and hostility and how, over the course of one monumental year, relations between Greece and Turkey went from the brink of conflict to an unprecedented affirmation of friendship and solidarity. Ker-Lindsay's original analysis of Greek-Turkish relations sheds light on the role played by the expanding European Union and the terrible earthquakes that struck both countries in that summer and provides insights into the lessons that can be learned from the events of this highly significant year.
Crisis and Conciliation
A Year of Rapprochement Between Greece and Turkey