FM to visit Ankara for talks by end of July

Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis is to conduct an official visit to Ankara over the next two months for her first two-way talks with her Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu, sources revealed yesterday. Bakoyannis accepted an invitation extended to her by Davutoglu and is expected to visit him by the end of July, diplomats in Athens told Kathimerini yesterday. Bakoyannis’s visit will be «in return» for the last official visit to Greece for bilateral talks by Davutoglu’s predecessor Ali Babacan in December 2007. When Bakoyannis meets with Davutoglu in Ankara, it is expected that the issue of Turkish air-space violations in the Aegean and the new drive for peace on Cyprus will figure high on the talks agenda. Responding to the Turkish foreign minister’s statement last week, according to which «problems with border countries» will be a priority for Ankara, Greece’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos said that the intention was encouraging but that it remained to be seen what action would be taken. Another foreign policy concern for Greece – the ongoing name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – was also addressed yesterday during talks between Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and former NATO General-Secretary Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who is visiting Athens. Scheffer stressed the importance for the alliance of «cohesion» and «not vetoes.» He also praised Greece’s contribution to global initiatives including a European Union crackdown on piracy off Somalia and peacekeeping troops in Afghanistan.

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