Letter to the New York Times, March 20, 1996

The Editorial Board
The New York Times
229 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036-3959

To the Editorial Board:

The Times is to be commended for its recent editorial, "Ms. Ciller Troubles the Waters" (February 17) regarding the conflict between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean. The recent actions by Turkey are apparently part of a larger strategy of intimidation an d threats which, as the Times correctly observed, "kept the issue inflamed with belligerent rhetoric." Unfortunately, the recent Turkish threats of force against Greece were not the first and probably will not be the last.

Turkey must be made to understand that threats against the territorial integrity of a European nation and a member of NATO are not welcome in Washington and the capitals of Europe. Indeed, after the recent dispute with Turkey in the Aegean, the European Union overwhelmingly expressed support for Greece and her position during the crisis. By a vote of 342-21, the European Parliament uncharacteristically adopted a resolution which strongly defended Greece, stating it was "gravely concerned about the dange rous violation by Turkey of the sovereign rights of Greece" and emphasized "that Greece's borders are also part of the external borders of the European Union." The European Union has further stated that a condition for Turkey's entry into a customs union with the EU is that it maintain good relations with European nations and respect international law.

Greece is the only member of the European Union which is facing wars in her vicinity and threats of imminent attack from a nation which desires membership in the European Union. If Turkey wishes to enter the EU, Turkey must not make territorial claims an d threats against a fellow EU member.

As the Times correctly observed, "Ms. Ciller has been playing to the nationalist galleries." If the rhetoric and actions of Ms. Ciller and successive Turkish governments are any guide, we can expect further threats. For many years, Turkey has been playi ng a dangerous game which may one day escalate to actual conflict despite Greek restraint. This game must end as soon as possible. We can only hope that the message of The New York Times gets through to Ankara and its supporters.


Christopher Ikaris

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