Greece, Turkey ‘disrupt’ NATO

Recently appointed NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen begins a trip to Greece and Turkey today just hours after saying that the tension between the two countries is hampering the alliance’s efforts in Afghanistan and in the Horn of Africa. Speaking on a video blog on NATO’s website, Rasmussen said that he would attempt to broach the subject of troubled relations between Athens and Ankara during his visit, which will last until Friday. «We have come to the point where it is causing us problems in our missions. In Afghanistan, NATO cannot conclude an agreement to support EU police,» he said. «Off the Horn of Africa, both NATO and the EU have missions in the same area against piracy but we have no agreement on who will do what or how to support each other. «That is just two examples of how these problems have spread far beyond Turkey and Greece.» Rasmussen is due to hold talks with Greek officials tomorrow, before heading to Ankara. «I hope it is possible to embark on a more pragmatic approach that will increase the security in our missions and make our efforts more effective,» said the NATO secretary-general. The Dane also outlined in his video blog the significance of improving NATO’s ties with Turkey. «It is one of my priorities to build a stronger partnership with the Arab and Central Asian countries. To that end, Turkey is a key player,» he said. «Turkey also plays a key role in supporting our mission in Afghanistan. Politically, Turkey has excellent contacts both with the leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan.» Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis yesterday declared that the coming six months would be «very demanding» for Greece to tackle stalled disputes with its neighbors, chiefly the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey. «All the major foreign issues are reaching a critical juncture,» Bakoyannis said. As for Ankara, Bakoyannis said «it still has time to show that its claims of having non-problematic ties with its neighbors are not just words.»