NEWS

Ties with Turkey ‘static,’ FM says

As Turkish fighter jets violated Greek air space in the Aegean again yesterday, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said that efforts to improve relations with neighboring Turkey had stalled. «The aim of Greece’s diplomacy is to improve Greek-Turkish relations – in our opinion this effort remained static in 2008,» Bakoyannis said following a session of the Government Council for Defense and Foreign Policy (KYSEA) which discussed national security issues in the wake of a series of provocative actions by Turkish jets in the Aegean. Yesterday four Turkish F-4 Phantom jets flew just 100 meters above the islet of Farmakonisi before being intercepted by Greek fighter aircraft. It was the fourth such violation since the beginning of the year. Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis, who also attended yesterday’s security meeting along with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, said that authorities were on standby and monitoring developments in the Aegean while «making efforts to reduce tension whenever it might arise.» According to sources, officials agreed yesterday that the activities of Turkish jets in the Aegean were nothing new, as Ankara often ups the ante as part of its policy of disputing Greece’s territorial rights. As to what Greece’s stance should be toward Turkey, the general consensus was that Athens should remain calm and report all violations to international organizations without resorting to antagonism. «We must remain serious and cool-headed when discussing such issues,» Bakoyannis told reporters yesterday. She said the government was «assessing» Turkey’s activities «as it has been assessing its conduct overall in view of its bid to join the European Union.» Bakoyannis stressed that good-neighborly relations were an «obvious prerequisite» if Ankara was to pursue its EU candidacy.