Erdogan: "We no longer want to see war jets over the aegean"
Ahead of his Athens visit to attend a conference on climate change in the Eastern Mediterranean on Friday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday extended an olive branch to Turkey's neighbor, calling for an end to the frequent dogfights between Turkish and Greek warplanes over the Aegean Sea. Stating that Turks and Greeks should stop seeing relations through a militarist lens, and that he believes his Greek counterpart George Papandreou wants the same, Erdogan told Greek Skai TV that Turkey wants to end the flights by Turkish and Greek warplanes over Aegean islands. "Of course the Turkish General Staff has sensitivities about this," he said. "Greek warplanes enjoy a wide berth over the Aegean Sea, and fly up to the Turkish continental shelf. We have no such long area to cover. There needs to be a mutual understanding on this." Decrying how much these flights cost both countries, Erdogan suggested that future Turkish and Greek military flights over the Aegean be controlled by NATO. On Turkey and Greece's dispute over the continental shelf, along with the dogfights, Erdogan said, "Mutual compromise will help us reduce our military spending." The total cost of dogfights between Turkish and Greek warplanes from 2000 to 2009 was nearly €450 million.