( dpa ) - Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday vowed to continue steps to improve ties and to solve long running disputes that have at times brought the two countries close to war.
As expected, no breakthrough deals were announced after the prime ministers but both Karamanlis and Erdogan stressed they were willing to work together.
"We are prepared to leave the problems of the past behind us, Erdogan told reporters after talks with Karamanlis.
"I have come to Turkey so that we can look more positive in the future," Karamanlis said.
Traditional rivals, the two countries almost went to war in 1997 after a dispute over sovereignty of a small Aegean islet. Turkey and Greece have enjoyed warmer relations in recent years, especially after twin earthquakes in 1999, and Greece today publicly supports Turkey's bid to join the European Union.
Tensions remain, however, and on the agenda of Karmanlis' meetings with Erdogan were sensitive issues such as territorial rights in the Aegean, the divided eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus and the rights of the Greek Orthodox minority in Turkey.
Karamanlis pointed out that a solution to the Cyprus problem was a criteria for Turkey in it's bid to join the European Union. Erdogan said that he believed new steps must be taken to resume negotiations between all sides once elections in Greek Cyprus have taken place later this year.
On the subject of the closed Greek Orthodox seminary of Heybeliada in Istanbul, Karamanlis went as far as to say that reopening the seminary, closed by the Turkish government in 1972, "could even be a passport to Europe."
Erdogan did not announce any solution to the seminary question but said that his government was working on a solution.
While no substantive breakthroughs were announced, Turkish commentators said the visit was a positive development in relations between the two countries.
"Even if nothing can be achieved, the fact that such a trip has taken place will be of great importance," commentator Yusuf Kanli wrote in the Turkish Daily News.
The last Greek prime minister to officially visit Turkey was Karamanlis' uncle, Konstantinos, in 1959.
Karamanlis was scheduled to meet Turkish President Abdullah Gul on Thursday before flying to Istanbul for a meeting with Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I and to attend a Greek-Turkish business forum.