Better Greek ties could see arms reduction, says Turkish PM
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Wrapping up his visit to Athens, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said improving relations between Greece and Turkey could lead to arms reduction in both countries. It was Erdogan’s first visit to the Greek capital since 2004.
"The development of relations between Greece and Turkey will boost the climate of trust and stability (and) ultimately the natural consequence could be arms reduction," Erdogan told Greek newspaper Ta Nea.
The countries governments – still mired in dispute over the ethnically divided island of Cyprus – on Friday hailed a "big step forward" in their relations, which have long been strained and have often veered towards hostility.
Calls to reduce arms in both countries had been left unanswered on Friday when Erdogan, who was travelling with a delegation of 10 ministers and 100 businessmen, met his Greek counterpart George Papandreou.
The two governments have now agreed to set up a council to hold regular meetings between the two countries' leaders and their cabinet ministers, and inked pacts on the economy, immigration, energy and other issues.
Casting a cloud over Erdogan's two-day stay, Greek far-right supporters held demonstrations in central Athens against the visit, with banners reading “Greece against Ottomans”.
Reciprocal commitments to reduce arms are particularly welcome in Greece, which is among the biggest defence spenders in Europe and is struggling to control its debt crisis.