Turkey warns against unilateral moves in the Aegean that could raise tension, saying dialogue and confidence-building measures are best to solve territorial diputes with Greece.
Turkey has warned against unilateral moves in the Aegean that could raise tension, saying dialogue and confidence-building measures would help resolve territorial disputes with Greece.
“Relations with Greece are not like in the past,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Burak Özügergin said Wednesday at a weekly press conference. He said mechanisms have been established with Greece since the 1990s when the two countries came to the brink of war over control of the uninhabited island of Imia, or Kardak.
Özügergin said the problems in the Aegean were all interdependent and added: “We want to see an Aegean that unites us, not separate us.”
On allegations by the Greek side about airspace violations, Özügergin offered statistics to the press, saying that Greek aviation activities over the Aegean had increased by 26 percent in 2008, while no increase was observed in Turkey’s. Greek flights in the Aegean are 10-fold that of Turkey’s, he said.
Özügergin said Turkey was using its rights stemming from international law on freedom of navigation and freedom of flight.
Journalists tangle with Greek coastguard
The Greek coastguard stopped a group of Turkish journalists and the captain of their boat as they attempted to take photographs near the Greek island of Rho on Tuesday, newspapers reported. The Greek coastguard questioned the journalists until contact was made with the Turkish coastguard, and then they were returned to the Turkish seaside resort of Kaş, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement late Tuesday.
“There was no situation such as Greek authorities detaining the Turkish journalists," the statement said.
Greek authorities also said the group had not been detained. A Greek patrol boat intercepted the journalists as they neared Rho and checked their identification without boarding the boat, reports said.
Bakoyannis visit not yet fixed
Özügergin, however, emphasized that significant progress had been made in relations with Greece and said Turkey remained determined for a resolution through dialogue and cooperation. He said Turkey was open and sincere and had no hidden agenda.
In response to a question about an expected visit of Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, Özügergin said: “We would be pleased to host Bakoyannis in our country in the coming period.” He made clear that no date has been decided upon. “We’ll show our traditional hospitality,” when Bakoyannis visits Turkey, said the spokesman.