Droutsas to Turkey for dispute talks

Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas is to arrive in Turkey today for a two-day visit aimed at boosting ties and tackling festering bilateral disputes. After scheduled talks with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios today in Istanbul, Droutsas is to travel to Ankara where he is to have talks tomorrow with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The talks are expected to focus on reviving exploratory talks on thorny issues that continue to strain bilateral ties such as the delineation of the continental shelf. They are also expected to investigate areas of possible cooperation in trade, tourism and agriculture. One matter likely to be broached is that of facilitating access to Greece for Turkish citizens who currently have to apply for a visa before traveling. One of the key goals of Droutsas’s visit is to lay the groundwork for a scheduled visit of Erdogan to Greece at the end of May. Droutsas had originally planned to visit Turkey last month but his trip – and a scheduled visit by Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis – were postponed in response to a spike in Turkish provocations in the Aegean. Since Erdogan’s office confirmed speculation about the premier’s plans to visit Greece, there have been fewer reports of Turkish radar warnings to Hellenic Coast Guard helicopters participating in anti-immigration patrols organized by Frontex, the European Union’s border monitoring agency. Violations of Greek air space in the Aegean by Turkish fighter jets have not stopped however. Yesterday Greek defense officials blamed two Turkish F16s for two Greek air space violations.

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