Cyprus exercises canceled, yet again

ANTALYA (AP) – Turkey and Greece announced yesterday that they were canceling scheduled military maneuvers near the divided island of Cyprus in the spirit of the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul – who is scheduled to visit Athens on October 21 – made the announcement in the seaside city of Antalya, where both were attending a meeting of foreign ministers of Mediterranean states. «In the spirit of the Olympic Games, we are announcing together that we will cancel military exercises that are taking place around Cyprus,» Papandreou said. Gul, standing at Papandreou’s side, later added that «both sides have the will to solve problems. Talks are going on. We are optimistic.» The cancellation applies to two major Greek and Turkish military exercises that were scheduled for the Cyprus area later this year. Greece’s annual Nikiforos-Toxotis exercises on and around Cyprus – held together with Cypriot military units – were scheduled to start on October 20. The two countries also canceled military exercises in that area last year and in 2001 to promote cooperation. Gul and Papandreou met on the sidelines of a meeting of the 11-member Mediterranean Forum, which apart from Greece and Turkey also includes Algeria, Egypt, France, Italy, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia.