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. Turkey's recent provocations are apparently part of a larger strategy of intimidation and threats which, as the Times correctly observed, "kept the issue inflamed with belligerent rhetoric." Unfortunately, these most recent threats of the use of military force by Turkey 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 NATO member are neither welcome in the capitals of Europe nor in Washington. Indeed, after the recent dispute with Turkey in the Aegean, the Europea n 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 dan gerous 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 uni on 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 large-scale armed conflicts in her immediate vicinity, as well as threats of imminent attack from a nation which ironically desires membership in the European Union. At a bare minimum, if Tu rkey wishes to enter the EU, Turkey must not make territorial claims and 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 Tansu Ciller and prior administrations are any guide, we can expect further threats by successive Turkish governments; particular ly since the Misograecist, anti-Armenian, and anti-Semitic extremism of Turkey's Islamic fundamentalists has finally found an outlet to political power. For decades now, Turkey has been playing a dangerous game. If the rules of this game are not changed soon by the region's referees, it may one day explode into armed conflict. We can only hope that your message of restraint is heard by Ankara and its supporters.


Christopher Ikaris

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