Erdogan arrives for fresh talks

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived last night for his second visit to Athens in five months and, following dinner with Premier George Papandreou, is due to hold more detailed talks today. Erdogan, accompanied by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, was invited by Papandreou to take part in a regional climate change conference but the discussion between the two leaders over dinner last night and at the sidelines of today’s meeting will no doubt focus on a range of issues still troubling relations between the two countries. One of these is the matter of Turkish air force overflights in the Aegean. In an interview with Skai TV earlier this week, Erdogan said that he wants to see an end to the practice of Turkish jets flying unannounced over Greek islands and of Greek planes encroaching on Turkey’s air space. Sources said that Athens is keen for talks to be based on an agreement that the two sides almost had in place in 2004, when Papandreou was foreign minister. At that time, Athens and Ankara appeared to be favoring a system whereby each side would notify the other of its air force flights through NATO, the defense alliance that both countries are members of. In his interview, Erdogan had suggested that he would consider such an option. Since Erdogan visited Athens in May, a high-level cooperation council has been set up so exploratory talks between diplomats from the two sides can be held. Sources said the issue of overflights is one of those that has been raised. Other matters that are due to be put forward for discussion today include the exploration of the continental shelf and the ongoing reunification talks on Cyprus.

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