Turkey and Greece have set up a military hotline in a bid to reduce the risk of clashes in the Mediterranean, where the two are locked in a row over energy resources and maritime borders.
The move was announced by the Nato military bloc, of which both countries are members.
Tensions rose this year when Turkey sent a research ship to a disputed area.
It comes as EU leaders met to discuss the bloc's thorny ties with Turkey.
Turkey has been a long-term candidate for membership of the European Union but efforts have stalled, with EU leaders criticising Turkey's record on human rights and the rule of law, in particular in the wake of the 2016 failed military coup.
But Turkey remains an important partner for the EU. Turkey hosts millions of migrants and struck a deal with the EU that limited the numbers arriving in nearby Greece.
The announcement of a hotline followed talks between Turkey and Greece at the Nato headquarters in Brussels.
"I welcome the establishment of a military de-confliction mechanism, achieved through the constructive engagement of Greece and Turkey, both valued Nato allies," said Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
"This safety mechanism can help to create the space for diplomatic efforts to address the underlying dispute and we stand ready to develop it further."
Such mechanisms enable direct communication between two sides – Russia and the US set one up during the Cold War and it has been in operation ever since.
In August two Turkish and Greek war ships collided in the Eastern Mediterranean. Since then tensions have eased somewhat, with the Turkish research vessel leaving the area last month and both sides saying they were prepared to resume talks.
News of the hotline emerged as EU leaders arrived elsewhere in Brussels for a summit. The bloc has backed its members Cyprus and Greece against Turkey.
Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Turkish "provocations" had to stop.
"One thing is certain: Turkish provocation, whether manifested through unilateral actions or through extreme rhetoric, can no longer be tolerated," he said.
French President Emmanuel Macron said support for Greece and Cyprus – which also has claims on Mediterranean resources – was "non-neRead More – Source
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Dozens killed in suspected jihadist attack in Niger
Dozens of people were killed in an attack in Niger on Saturday, in a suspected jihadist attack.
The attack took place around 12:00 CET in the Tchomo-Bangou village in Tillabéri, a western region bordering Mali.
“The assailants surrounded the village and killed up to 50 people,” a local radio journalist said anonymously. “The wounded have been evacuated to the hospital in Ouallam.”
It came on the day provisional results for the first round of the presidential election, held on December 27, were released.
Mohamed Bazoum, the candidate for the ruling Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) and a former interior minister, is in the lead with 39.3 per cent of the votes. Bazoum has vowed to strengthen the country’s fight against Islamist groups.
The second round of the election is to be held on February 21.
Niger has been a target for jihadist attacks for years, particularly in the western and southeastern parts of the country.
On December 21, six days before the presidential poll, seven soldiers were killed in Tillabéri. In May 2020, twenty people, including children, were also killed in two of the region’s villages.
Niger votes in presidential and legislative elections
People in Niger began voting in the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday.
Mohamed Bazoum, the right-hand man of outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou is the favourite to win.
The sixty-year-old former interior minister is aiming for outright victory in the first round — something that no candidate has done before.
He’s focussing on security and education.
Over 7 million people are eligible to vote. But some voters, like Gambina Moumouni, simply want a president they can trust.
“We pray to Allah to choose us the president who has the most mercy for the people, a president who will not betray the country and who will not betray the trust of the people, that is our wish. It is also our wish that Allah may help to make the poor, the peasants, the (cattle) breeders happy.
Thirty candidates are standing including two former presidents and two former prime ministers, but according to seasoned observers in the region, the poll is arousing little enthusiasm among the population.
Niger is the world’s poorest according to the UN’s Human Development Index and also one of those hardest hit by climate change.
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