Turkey's Army chief proposes unarmed flights over Aegean Sea

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Aegean Sea, between Greece and Turkey.

Turkey's Chief of General Staff, General Yaşar Büyükanıt, proposed that Greek and Turkish fighters should fly unarmed flights over the Aegean. This follows reports that Greek and Turkish fighters held mock dogfights during Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Athens last month.

Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos said that Turkish planes were in the air at the time but denied any effort to confront Greek fighters.

Gen. Büyükanıt is in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, where the Conference of the Balkan countries Chiefs of Army Staff takes place, and met his Greek counterpart, Admiral Panayiotis Chinofotis.

Greece's Minister of National Defence Evangelos Meimarakis this morning declared open the Conference which takes place in Thermi, a suburb in eastern Thessaloniki. As Meimarakis said during his opening speech, the dialogue among Balkan countries is very significant; characteristically saying that a dialogue builds bridges.

Gen. Büyükanıt's visit in Greece is his first in the country, after he became chief of the Turkish Army Forces. According to Turkish officials, Gen. Büyükanıt will visit the Turkish Consulate of Thessaloniki which is regarded as the birthplace house of Kemal Ataturk.