Greek, Turkish Armed Forces Begin Talks on Confidence-Building Measures

Αssociated Press

FILE- Greece's national Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

ATHENS - The armed forces of Greece and Turkey began meeting in Athens on Monday in the framework of military talks on confidence-building measures (CBM).

According to the National Defense Ministry, talks focused on selecting the activities related to confidence building in order to prevent tension and to reduce the risk of accidents.

The Turkish delegation arrived in Athens the same day, and talks will be completed on February 21.

Despite this, Turkish F-16s continue to enter the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) without submitting flight plans. On Monday, the armed forces registered 6 such infringements of Athens FIR and 34 violations of Greek national airspace by Turkish fighter planes in several regions of the Aegean Sea. In all cases, the Turkish jets were recognised and intercepted by Greek ones.

Greece vehemently opposes an agreement reached last November between Turkey and Libya, which it argues was signed in violation of international law and Greek sovereign rights.

In a related dispute, Athens and the European Union have also condemned Turkey’s drilling for gas off the war-divided island of Cyprus.

Greece and Turkey maintain regular military-to-military meetings, aimed at avoiding confrontation along disputed boundaries in the region.

The defense ministers of Greece and Turkey, Nikos Panagiotopoulos and Hulusi Akar, met on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Brussels last week to discuss the agenda of the talks in Athens.