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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Greece and Turkey To Hold First Joint Naval Exercise


Greece and Turkey will soon hold their first ever joint naval exercise in the southern Aegean, involving a small number of frigates, a military source said on Sept. 20.

Confirming a story in the Greek daily Ta Nea, a source at the Greek general staff told AFP that at least two frigates, one from each side, would brush up on communication procedures over the space of a few hours.

The two neighbors and long-time territorial rivals frequently send military units to joint NATO exercises, but bilateral cooperation of this nature is unique.

”This is the first time such a cooperation has taken place,” the general staff source said.

Ta Nea reported that the exercise would take place on September 23, but the source declined to confirm the date, saying it was “in the process of approval.”

The Greek and Turkish top brass in July discussed ways to improve bilateral ties following a deadly mid-air crash in May between fighter jets from the two countries.

During a rare three-day visit to Turkey by the Greek chief of general staff, Admiral Panayotis Hinofotis and his Turkish counterpart at the time, General Hilmi Ozkok, considered mutual visits by senior commanders and joint military exercises to prepare for rescue operations in natural disasters and for other humanitarian missions.

But the thaw has failed to completely eliminate tension in Aegean airspace, where jets from the two NATO allies routinely engage in mock dog fights.
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