THE Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Ergodan, accompanied by ten ministers and 100 top businessmen, began a visit to Greece yesterday.
Relations between the two countries are often tense, the legacy of an exchange of populations in the 1920s and exacerbated by difficulties between the Greek and Turkish communities in Cyprus which remain at odds despite several years of UN-sponsored negotiations. Both countries are members of Nato but there are territorial disputes between them in the Aegean which contribute to the uneasy relationship that persists.

Mr Erdogan has described his mission as “revolutionary” and intended to “surmount the psychological threshold” that has long divided the two countries. A symbolic joint cabinet meeting of Greek and Turkish ministers will be held. Although the timing of the visit may seem inappropriate given Greece's economic crisis and civil unrest, Mr Erdogan may be able to pass on some hints since Turkey had its own economic problems and IMF intervention in 2003. But primarily this initiative should be taken as a further example of Turkey's determination to pursue its policy of establishing new political and economic links with countries not previously in its sphere of interest. These moves are in part a response to the European Union's continuing lack of enthusiasm for Turkey's long-standing application for membership -- an attitude led by Austria, France and Germany that is perceptibly reducing Turkey's interest in joining.