28 July 1999 Wednesday 

Turkey and Greece steps forward to ease tense

       In a bid to ease tense ties, Turkish and Greek delegations concluded two rays of discussion on controversial issues in Ankara with the highlight falling on upcoming talks in Athens on "terrorism".
       "The talks took place in a positive and relaxed atmosphere," Sermet Atacanli, Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesman, told reporters.
       "Of course, one should not expect concrete results at once from the talks. This is just a beginning and it is even positive to have been able to make a beginning," he said.
       The same cautious optimism was reflected on the Greek side as well. Greek government spokesman Nicos Athanassakis said earlier that the talks were held in a "positive atmosphere," but it was "not opportunate to say more at this time, before the talks are concluded."
       For the past two days, experts from Turkey and Greece, headed by Ambassador Mithat Balkan from Turkey and Ambassador Anastase Skopetilis, from Greece looked into ways of cooperation on tourism, environmental protection and trade.
       Delegations also discussed updating a 1979 tourism agreement which was never put into force and increasing contact between two countries' public and private sectors.

© 1999 Milliyet