03 November, 2006
Turkish military chief Gen. Yasar Büyükanit continued his official visit to Greece on Thursday by meeting with his counterpart and host, Adm. Panayiotis Hinofotis, for talks mostly revolving around efforts to reduce tensions in Greek-Turkish relations and to increase a climate of trust between the two neighbors.
The lengthy meeting, which was described as being of an "exploratory nature", also touched on regional security issues.
Both sides appeared positive over the prospect of a joint Greek-Turkish task natural disaster force, within the framework of NATO, which will be able to operate in the wider Mediterranean and North African region.
Another item up for discussion by the two countries' top military chiefs included the establishment of a council of Balkan countries' general staff chiefs, an initiative aimed at boosting regional security. An inaugural council meeting in Thessaloniki at the beginning of the year was discussed, among others.
The Turkish general staff chief also expressed his condolences over the death of Hellenic Air Force aviator Lt. Costas Iliakis, the Greek F-16 pilot whose plane crashed into the southeast Aegean Sea last May following a mid-air collision with a Turkish F-16 during a mission to identify intruders in the Athens FIR.
In other matters, Gen. Büyükanit referred to security problems faced by Turkey and Ankara's European prospects.
Earlier, the highest-ranking Turkish military officer was received by Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis for a courtesy visit.
In the morning, Gen. Büyükanit laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in front of Greece's Parliament, before he was officially received at the national defense ministry.
During his official four-day visit to Greece - in reciprocation for Hinofotis' earlier visit to Turkey - the Turkish military chief will tour several archaeological sites and museums before departing on Saturday.
Source: Athens News Agency