NATO's southeastern flank - namely, Greece and Turkey - may be less vulnerable now that the two nations are talking to each other again.
One year after Socialist leader Andreas Papandreou took over as Greece's prime minister, the normally antagonistic countries have opened a dialogue on a number of divisive issues.
''Our differences on issues such as the continental shelf, territorial waters , and air space in the Aegean region remain to be resolved, but what is important is that we reached an understanding that these issues should be resolved by way of negotiations,'' Turkish Foreign Minister Ilter Turkmen told The Christian Science Monitor.
At the early October NATO ministerial meeting in Canada, the dialogue between Turkman and Greek Foreign Minister Yanis Haralambopoulos was a ''positive step and a new start.''
''Considering that this dialogue was interrupted since the access to power of Prime Minister Papandreou, who earlier said there was nothing to discuss with Turkey, the fact that such a meeting between us took place, is an important development in itself,'' Turkmen said.
''We have reviewed the present state of our relations and decided to meet again next December in Brussels, during the NATO ministerial conference in order to determine the procedure and modality of future negotiations,'' he added.
Turkmen also said there was agreement at the talks on the continuation of '' a period of detente'' - usually referred to by Mr. Papandreou as a moratorium - to create a more favorable atmosphere for negotiations.
''It is necessary to avoid inflamatory statements and press campaigns as well as provocative actions,'' he said. Asked whether he thought that Greece would respect this so- called gentlemen's agreement, he replied, ''the proof of the pudding is in the eating.''
On the issue of dividing Cyprus between the two nations, Turkmen said ''everybody agrees that the best way to find a solution is to continue the intercommunal talks.''
Earlier, the Cyprus President Spiros Kiprianou told the Monitor that the world tended to forget the fate of the divided island, because of other troubled areas.
''We are happy that there is no bloodshed in Cyprus, but we want the world to show more attention to us'' he stated. ''The intercommunal talks cannot go on like this. . .we are now making consultations with various countries to establish a new system of negotiations.''