Greece has eye on Turkey after EU ‘no’ votes
Greece’s military is keeping a close eye on traditional rival Turkey after French and Dutch referendums on the EU Constitution raised questions over future EU enlargement, Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos said. «Of course we are checking the behavior of Turkey in the Aegean Sea, and we will continue to do that,» Spiliotopoulos said yesterday while attending a one-day military exercise. «Turkey’s response appears to have been neutral,» Spiliotopoulos told The Associated Press. He added that Greece was «closely monitoring» Aegean air space after voters in France and the Netherlands rejected the EU Constitution in separate referendums this week. «We stand firm on our permanent views on national issues,» the minister said. NATO allies Greece and Turkey have come to the brink of war three times since 1974. They have longstanding disputes over the war-divided island of Cyprus, as well as air space and territorial rights in the Aegean, despite recently improved relations. Greece says its national air space extends to 10 miles (16 kilometers), but Turkey recognizes only 6 miles (10 kilometers) – the same distance as territorial waters – often leading to accusations of air space violations. Spiliotopoulos said all alleged air space violations by Turkish jets have been reported by Athens to NATO and the EU. On Thursday, Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis said Athens remained strongly in favor of EU expansion to include Bulgaria and Romania in 2007, adding that Turkey also deserved to become a full EU member once it fulfills entry criteria. Spiliotopoulos yesterday attended an exercise near Athens code-named «Dolphin 05» in which warships, fighter jets, attack helicopters and special forces units responded to the capturing of a Greek island by «red forces.» Turkey’s national colors are red and white.