Erdogan due in Athens tonight

Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives in Athens this evening on the first official visit to Greece by a Turkish head of government since the late 1980s, at a time when the thaw in Greco-Turkish relations is overcast by the failed Cyprus reunification drive. Erdogan is to join Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis tonight for a private dinner at his house in Rafina, eastern Attica. Tomorrow, the two premiers will hold formal talks at Maximos Mansion. Erdogan will then have a series of meetings with President Costis Stephanopoulos and opposition party leaders. On Saturday, he will make a groundbreaking tour – the first by a Turkish PM since 1952 – of the Muslim minority areas in Thrace. Athens insists that the Thrace trip will be nothing more than a «private visit,» although opposition leader George Papandreou has questioned the wisdom of the idea. Meanwhile, late on Tuesday the top administrative official in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus, Mehmet Ali Talat, had talks in Washington with US Secretary of State Colin Powell in the highest-level meeting of the sort since 1990. In Cyprus, a group calling itself Organization of Cypriot Nationalists yesterday claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s hand grenade attack on the house of a prominent pro-settlement Cypriot politician. Nobody was hurt by the blast. In a proclamation described by Cypriot officials as clumsily worded, the group described Democratic Rally (DISY) Chairman Nikos Anastasiadis as an «arch-traitor» for backing the United Nations-drafted peace plan that the Greek Cypriots resoundingly rejected in an April 28 referendum – at the same time as the Turkish Cypriots overwhelmingly voted in favor of the deal. Police dismissed the group as «not serious.»