13 June, 2006
The foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey, Dora Bakoyannis and Abdullah Gul, agreed in a meeting they had in Istanbul on Saturday on specific measures for further strengthening relations between the two countries and for easing tension.
"We confirmed the political will for initiatives which will strengthen the climate of confidence and will restrict tension to the greatest possible degree," Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis stated in the joint press conference which followed the talks.
Specifically, an agreement was signed for the building of a second bridge in the region of Evros, the establishment of ad hoc committees for the taking of measures for the confrontation of problems from floods in the region, the setting up of a direct line of communication between the chiefs of the Armed Forces General Staff of the two countries, as well as the setting up of a direct phone line between the NATO sub-headquarters based in Larissa, central Greece and a military base in Eskisehir, Turkey.
They also agreed that within the framework of a memorandum in 1988, for there to be a moratorium in the Aegean from June 15 to September 15, that is, it will be valid for three months instead of the previous two months. Agreement was also reached for the planning of exercises between the two countries' rescue and search squads for the confrontation of natural disasters, and the exchange of visits between the chiefs of the Port Authority of the two countries. The chief of Turkey's Armed Forces General Staff also invited his Greek counterpart to visit Turkey.
The two foreign ministers also agreed that cooperation should continue between the two countries in the energy, economic and banking sectors, in which, according to Bakoyannis, "important steps have been made."
Bakoyannis noted that "in the open, sincere and constructive meeting" she had with her Turkish counterpart Gul, "we created the framework in order for there to be results to the mutual interest of the two countries." She added that "the target is for us to utilize the impetus so as to consolidate a climate of confidence in our bilateral relations."
Bakoyannis said "our meeting today is yet another step in the right direction," adding that "we shall continue to meet and have substantial discussions."
Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul described the discussion he had with his Greek counterpart "on all our issues" as "extremely beneficial with very much courage and cordiality." He noted the political will of neighboring Turkey "for Greek-Turkish bilateral relations to be strengthened even more."
Gul said characteristically that "the glass of water in Greek-Turkish relations is more than half full and we will try to fill it."
Source: Athens News Agency