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Greece & Turky plan to cut on their defence budges
1.       si++
3785 posts
 15 May 2010 Sat 05:45 pm

PM says aims to open a new era with long-time rival
Turkey’s Erdoğan arrived on his first trip to the Greek capital since 2004, promising to support his indebted neighbor´s efforts toward financial recovery.
14 Mayıs 2010 Cuma, 15:03:48

The prime ministers of long-time arch-rivals Greece and Turkey, that have invested heavily in

military spending to ward off one another looked Friday in a new bid to improve relations and economic cooperation as Greece struggles under an acute debt crisis.

Erdoğan, visiting Athens for the first time since 2004, said he aimed to open a "new era" in ties. "This visit is of historic importance for Turkish-Greek ties," he said at Ankara airport before he flew to Athens for the two day-trip. "I believe... the 21 accords and cooperation protocols that we will sign with our neighbor and friend Greece will mark the beginning of a new era in our relations," he told reporters.

Arms – the critical issue

Greece is the European Union´s largest military spender in terms of gross domestic product, due to its often hostile relations with its eastern neighbor. The two NATO-members came to the brink of war three times between 1974 and 1996 over the ethnically divided island of Cyprus and territorial rights in the Aegean Sea.

Erdoğan said he would support a deal for a mutual reduction in arms spending. “Both countries have very large defense budgets. ... We must reduce these expenditures and use the money for other purposes.”

Last month, Defense Minister Evangelos Venizelos said Greece aims to slash military operating costs by up to 25 percent this year, instead of just the 12.6 percent reduction outlined in the budget.  But the cuts would not affect arms procurement programs.

Venizelos said Greece would spend about 6 billion euro – or 4.8
percent of GDP – on defense this year, with about 2.3 billion euro on arms and the rest for operating costs and salaries.

Work lunch

Erdoğan will have a working lunch with Greek counterpart George Papandreou followed by the first of a new series of meetings between ministers from each side, conceived as an annual event to forge closer ties.

Ten Cabinet ministers and nearly 100 businessmen are accompanying Erdoğan, and the two sides will hold their first-ever joint Cabinet meeting, led by Erdoğan and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, who was instrumental in easing Greek-Turkish hostility during his 1999-2004 tenure as foreign minister. “We intend to stand by you in solidarity,” Erdoğan said in an interview with Greece´s state television aired late Thursday.

Regional rivals for centuries despite being members of NATO in the past half-century, Greece and Turkey markedly improved relations in 1999 after destructive earthquakes struck both countries within weeks of each other.

Holding hands in hard times

Greece is in the grip of a deep recession and debt crisis and has been forced to implement harsh austerity measures in return for a giant bailout loan from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

In remarks to the Greek daily Ta Nea on Monday, Turkey´s chief EU negotiator Egemen Bagis called for mutual cuts in military spending, pointing at the severe financial crisis shaking Greece. But the offer has been met with scepticism in Greece.

Papandreou, who helped build stronger ties with Turkey during his stint as foreign minister in a previous government, invited Erdoğan in January in a bid to relaunch relations.

He recently said he wanted to discuss Turkey´s bid to join the EU with Erdoğan.

Debt-ridden Greece will cut its huge defence budget and has not been bullied into signing new deals by European allies, Defence Minister Panos Beglitis said in an interview published Friday.

Despite facing critical public debt, Greece remains one of Europe´s biggest arms buyers, and there have been reports that France and Germany are pressing Athens into multi-billion dollar weapons contracts.

Beglitis told the French daily Le Monde his department would have to make savings alongside all the others in the Greek government, and denied that Berlin and Paris had brought undue to pressure to bear.

"This year we´ve decided to cut the defense budget from 6.8 billion euros to six billion, that´s to say 2.8 percent of GDP," he said. On average, the NATO allies each spend around 1.7 percent of their GDPs on defense.

"Operating expenses will fall by around 12.5 percent," he said. "Arms purchases will account for between 0.6 and one percent of GDP."

Despite both being NATO members, Greece has a tense relationship with its Aegean neighbor Turkey, with which it disputes certain islands and maritime frontiers, and has traditionally spent heavily on defense.


Quoted from: here

Edited (5/16/2010) by si++ [link]

2.       Yersu
241 posts
 18 May 2010 Tue 03:39 am

This was a wrong move. Greece has to cut on defense spending due to its economic situation anyway, we could have used this opportunity to force a diplomatic solution for the Aegean problem. Don´t get me wrong, I have no problem with Greek people, neither do I enjoy taking advantage of such a calamity however this ridiculous scheme of making Turkey landlocked in the Aegean has to come to an end. Yet our pm chose to play the benevolent sultan, unbelievable.

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