NEWS

Cool jets, US tells Turkey

A senior US State Department official has told Sunday’s Kathimerini that Washington is putting pressure on Turkey to stop its fighter jets from crossing into Greek air space and flying over Greece’s islands because it is «dangerous» and could «seriously erode» relations between Athens and Ankara. US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Gordon is in charge of the USA’s policy on a number of issues that affect Greece, including relations with Turkey, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and the reunification process on Cyprus. When questioned about persistent incursions into Greek air space by Turkish jets, Gordon indicated that the USA is not pleased with the practice. «We have been watching that very closely and frankly we are disturbed by it,» said Gordon. «It’s a dangerous situation which, if it goes on, can lead to an accident. It obviously leads to tensions, but it could be even worse. Something could happen. That could cost lives or damage, and seriously erode an important relationship.» In the most recent incident that was made public, two formations comprising a total of 16 Turkish fighter jets violated Greek air space in the central and northern Aegean last Tuesday. «We are disturbed by the recent trend and have engaged already,» added the State Department official. «We obviously have close relations with both countries and their militaries, and are asking both to show restraint and stand down; particularly military over-flights over inhabited islands are something we could do without.» Gordon went on to say that it was «encouraging» that Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat were holding talks about ending the division on Cyprus and that Washington was looking to Ankara to enforce its customs union with Cyprus by the end of the year, so that its European Union membership negotiations could proceed. On the Macedonia name issue, Gordon suggested that negotiations for a settlement between FYROM and Greece should also focus on the question of «Macedonian identity» and how the term could be used.