Focus on Aegean borders

Greece and Turkey’s foreign ministers yesterday expressed confidence that the two countries can solve the problem of increased violations of Greek air space by Turkish military jets. George Papandreou and Abdullah Gul met on the sidelines of a NATO conference in Madrid. «I hope the problems will be overcome on the basis of international regulations,» Papandreou said, while Gul voiced faith that the two edgy neighbors can «peacefully solve the problems that occasionally arise.» A steep increase of 300 percent last year in Turkish violations of Greek air space over the Aegean, which often result in aerial jousts between armed fighters, and a further rise this year, prompted Athens to lodge an official complaint with Ankara last month. The European Commission was also informed. Yesterday, Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul insisted that Ankara does not recognize Greece’s 10-mile air space limit, adding that he would discuss the extent of Greece’s territorial waters with his Greek counterpart next week. Turkish navy and air force units begin exercises in the Aegean today.

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