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Greece, Turkey to draft framework to reduce tension

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The defense ministers of Greece and Turkey, Evangelos Apostolakis and Hulusi Akar, said on Wednesday after talks in Brussels that technical teams from both countries will be tasked with drafting a framework of confidence-building measures in a bid to reduce tensions in the Aegean.

The general framework will be based on the confidence-building measures agreed in 1988 by then Greek Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias and Turkey’s Mesut Yilmaz.

“We discussed bilateral issues and the implementation of the Papoulias-Yilmaz memorandum of 1988,” Apostolakis said after his meeting with Akar at Wednesday's NATO ministerial summit.

He added that the technical teams will begin meetings imminently.

Apostolakis also met with North Macedonia’s Defense Minister Radmila Sekerinska, who became the country’s first official to attend a NATO summit as an observer.

Apart from discussions related to the name agreement recently ratified by the two countries, Apostolakis and Sekerinska also discussed military ties, given that North Macedonia will become a fully fledged NATO member.

Apostolakis said he informed Sekerinska that Greece’s armed forces can help North Macedonia’s military to adapt to the alliance’s demands.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Sekerinska said North Macedonia has “shown that change is possible if you have the right amount of political leadership.”

The small Balkan country changed its name on Tuesday. It will be accepted as a full NATO member late this year or early in 2020 once parliaments have endorsed the text. Until then, it can take part in the alliance’s meetings as a guest.