Turks upbeat, realistic on talks with Greece

Optimism is mingling with a wait-and-see attitude as Turkish officials and analysts assess this weekend's meeting between the leaders of Turkey and Greece in Davos, Switzerland. According to a Western observer here, ``The Davos spirit can be the beginning of a new era of friendship between the two nations.''

``We have to maintain cautious optimism over the Davos spirit,'' says one Turkish official, referring to the first ever talks between Prime Ministers Turgut Ozal and Andreas Papandreou. ``We have to wait and see for that spirit to be transformed into deeds.''

By Monday, Mr. Ozal was already reported to have told his Greek counterpart that he would cancel a 1964 decree expelling Greek nationals from Turkey and blocking their assets.

In addition, so far, the leaders have agreed on a series of confidence-building measures, including exchanges of visits and contacts between civilians as well as military personnel; a joint economic council to promote trade and tourism; annual summit meetings; and a direct telephone ``hot-line'' to discuss matters of discord when needed.

But no movement was made on the two main issues of contention - oil-exploration rights in the Aegean Sea and the sovereignty of Cyprus. The subjects were however reportedly discussed.

``What is important is that a mechanism for resolving problems has been set up,'' a senior Turkish official says. ``This process may take a long time. ...''

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