Impromtu Greek-Turkish talks

Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met on the island of Rhodes yesterday afternoon for unofficial talks that focused on bilateral cooperation in the tourism sector and did not touch on any thorny issues such as the delineation of the continental shelf, according to sources. Although the two diplomats avoided raising any delicate topics of conversation, a violation of Greek air space by Turkish fighter just before their lunch began made it clear that tensions are still simmering in the Aegean. At exactly 12.29 p.m. a formation of six Turkish F-16s entered Greek air space between the islands of Lesvos and Lemnos. The Turkish planes were chased off by two Greek F-16s. The violations come just a few weeks after Athens complained to Ankara about the activities of a Turkish marine research ship near Greek territorial waters. These problems were not on the table at the taverna in the Old Town of Rhodes where Droutsas and Davutoglu met yesterday. According to sources, the meeting was arranged at the last minute after the Turkish diplomat informed Droutsas that he was holidaying with his family in the Turkish resort of Bodrum, known as Halicarnassos in Greek, and proposed meeting. «We arrived rather suddenly; we knocked on the door and came in,» Davutoglu was quoted as saying. Droutsas reportedly responded, «As long as you knock before entering, you are always welcome.» The two men, who were joined by Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Giorgos Nikitiadis, discussed plans to offer joint packages to tourists. Turkey has seen an increase of around 20 percent in tourist arrivals this year, while Greece has seen a drop of around 10 percent due to strikes and bad press prompted by its debt crisis. Davutoglu described the Aegean as «our common sea,» adding, «We are like a family, Turks and Greeks, as we share the same geography, cultural heritage and our tourism sectors have common features.»