Greek FM in Turkey for talks with Gul

Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis is in Istanbul today where she is due to sign an agreement with her Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul to establish a telephone hotline between their countries’ air forces. Bakoyannis, who is meeting with Gul informally on the sidelines of a media conference, is expected to propose the implementation of further trust-building measures, including the extension of a traditional two-month moratorium on air force exercises in the Aegean. After her arrival in Istanbul yesterday, Bakoyannis met with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios and reiterated calls for Turkey to recognize the patriarch and reopen the Halki Orthodox seminary. «We believe that Turkey has a place in the EU… as long as religious freedoms are recognized and allowed to be exercised,» she said. In Athens, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said exploratory talks between Greek and Turkish diplomats, which have entered their 35th round, would continue «with the aim of fully normalizing relations.» Meanwhile, opposition PASOK chief George Papandreou called for a new national strategy opposite Turkey. «Greece can shape the prerequisites for exercising all its major rights while creating an atmosphere of peace and cooperation with Turkey,» he said. In Brussels, EU diplomats argued with Cypriot officials over terms for concluding the first round of Turkey’s accession talks.

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