Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-02-26
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 26/02/1998 (ANA)
- Simitis' foreign policy speech in parliament
- EU's conditions for Turkey's candidacy
- Greece's role in the broader region
- Opposition reaction
- Greece says Turkey's response "a threat"
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Simitis' foreign policy speech in parliament
Prime Minister Costas Simitis today reiterated Greece's firm position on a
step-by-step approach in Greek-Turkish relations, saying that "the problems
between the two countries stem from Ankara's unacceptable demands and
He told an off-the-agenda Parliamentary debate on foreign policy that
"Greece does not discuss, in any manner, its sovereign rights" and rejected
the idea of an overall political negotiation.
Simitis said that an important element of this approach, as outlined in the
Greek proposal, "is recourse to the International Court of Justice at The
Hague for the delineation of the (Aegean) continental shelf", which, he
said, "is the only issue between the two countries that requires settlement,
and would decisively contribute to normalisation of the situation".
The cornerstone for normalisation of Greek-Turkish relations was international
law, "which Ankara is obliged to respect since", Simitis said, "it has
arisen from the start that international law, the internationally judicial
bodies and a peaceful settlement of differences, are the basic prerequisites
for the shaping of a new era in relations with Turkey".
Simitis recalled the EU decisions at the Luxembourg summit where, he said,
"it was deemed, at the present stage, that it was not feasible for Turkey
to be considered as being able to be included on an equal status with the
With respect to both its participation in the European Conference and to
the framework of its relations with the EU, the European Union's 15 member
states "called on Turkey to align itself with the European values and
principles. Such are the framework of commitments concerning peace,
security, good neighbourly relations, the need for respecting the integrity
and inviolability of external borders, and also the principles of
international law", Simitis said, adding that it had been stressed that
recourse to The Hague was "the most suitable means of settling differences".
At the same time, he said, respect of the accession prospects of other
states was also set as a condition for a country's participation in the
European Conference, "and in this way Turkey was called on to accept
Cyprus' accession course".
EU's conditions for Turkey's candidacy
Simitis further cited the Luxembourg decisions concerning Turkey's European
strategy, as they were outlined in April 1997 by the EU-Turkey Association
Council, which called on Turkey for continuation of the process of
democratisation and respect of human rights in Turkey, good and steady
relations with Greece and the setlement of differences mainly through The
Hague, and a constructive stance on a Cyprus solution in the framework of
the UN resolutions.
The Premier said the Luxembourg decisions placed Turkey's course towards
Europe "on a healthy and viable foundation, and Turkey was disappointed".
Further, he said, in 1993 Greece acknowledged the general jurisdiction of
the International Court, "but, being aware of Ankara's aggressiveness, we
stipulated a specific reservation with respect to issues of defence and
"We call on Ankara to follow suit," he added.
Turning to the Cyprus issue, Simitis said that Greece supported UN efforts
and would continue to cooperate closely with the new government in Cyprus
and providing every possible assistance so that the negotiations for its EU
accession would be successfully concluded.
Simitis also said that Cyprus "has every right to organise its defence",
adding that the Clerides proposal for demilitarisation or gradual
disarmament of the island republic "is in the right direction, and Turkey's
refusal is another step in its intransigence".
The Premier expressed hope that Ankara "will weigh the situation in a
calmer fashion, abandoning its threats -- such as to annex the Turkish-
occupied territory -- and realise that the accession of a unified Cyprus
into the EU would be to the benefit of the Turkish Cypriots also".
Greece's role in the broader region
Speaking earlier in his address on the developments in the region since
1989, Simitis said the government's policy aimed at upgrading Greece's
position in the wider region and at having a broader role in international
decision-making centres and in international organisations.
In that framework, he said, Greece was developing initiatives towards
friendship and cooperation in the Balkans, the Black Sea, the Middle East
and the eastern Mediterranean. He cited the 34 agreements signed between
Greece and those countries.
Turning to NATO and events after 1989, Simitis said:
"It must be made clear that NATO is not an administrative body, it does not
exercise sovereignty on behalf of its member countries. Every state
reserves the right and duty to assume its sovereign responsibilities in the
framework of collective defence."
"The basic principles of the new NATO structure are collective defence,
support missions for peace and stability, and in that context, the NATO
headquarters have been reduced from 65 to 20, with strategic regional and
sub-regional commands. In the southern sector, which involves our country,
the installation of a regional headquarters in Naples is provided for, with
two branch regional airforce and naval headquarters in Italy and four
inter-branch subregional headquarters in Madrid, Verona, Larissa and Izmir,
" Simitis explained.
He said it had been decided in 1992 that the regulations of the new
structure would not have pre-determined limits of operational control, and
consequently Greece "has not conceded anything". He pointed out ever since
1980, headquarters had been decided upon yet never established.
Greece, he said, would participate equally for the first time in all the
NATO activities, and consequently new prospects were opening up in the
traditional area of collective defence as well as in the area of European
identity, security and defence.
Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis accused the
prime minister of making concessions to Turkey and of persisting with what
he called the "pseudo-dilemma of war or peace" with Turkey, distracting the
Greek people from their real problems.
Speaking in the parliament debate this morning, Karamanlis said the
government had not realised the importance of the correlation of forces in
today's world, that pressures were being put on Greece, whose reaction was
to pull back.
The opposition leader raised strong doubts regarding the prime minster's
contention that Turkey was being isolated by the international community.
"Turkey is being courted by the international (community) and it is a
mistake to believe that it is being isolated," said Karamanlis.
"This is clear from the fact that our European allies are tring to bring
Turkey into the European Conference through the back door," he said, also
drawing attention to pressure being put to bear with regard to the
participation of Turkish Cypriots in negotiations for Cyprus' accession to
Karamanlis also accused Simitis of being incapable of dealing with Turkey's
provocations. He referred to the incident over the Imia islets and the
increased violations by Turkey of Greece's Aegean air space as cases in
Meanwhile, he expressed the view that the new structure of NATO did not
fully secure Greece's national interests and that the proposed confidence
building measures (between Greece and Turkey) involved the risk of
weakening the country's defence.
The US, meanwhile, did not recognise imoprtant aspects of Greece's national
interests, said Karamanlis, noting that the US sided with Turkey on three
issues - the extent of Greece's air space, Greece's legal right to extend
its territorial waters to a 10-mile radius and with regard to the
The message being sent by Greece, he said, was that it would bow to
"We have to stop acting like a good child," he stressed.
Greece says Turkey's response "a threat"
Greece views yesterday's statement by Turkey's Foreign Ministry as an
"unacceptable threat" with which Ankara "cannnot hide its real intentions",
government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said today.
The Turkish statement slammed Athens for its rejection on Tuesday of
proposals for a high-level dialogue made by Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail
Cem on improving relations between the two neighbouring countries.
"We cannot proceed with political negotiations based on Turkey's unilateral
claims," said Reppas.
"Turkey is seeking a form of communication without any specific rules or
content. This is meaningless," said the spokesman, who accused Turkey of
refusing to operate within the framework of international law, as Greece
He also charged that Turkey had not accepted the process of an experts'
committee within the framework of the European Union.
Cloudy weather and intermittent light rain is forecast for most parts of
Greece today. Winds northerly, northeasterly, moderate to strong, turning
gale force in the Aegean Sea. Athens will be windy, cloudy with light rain
and temperatures between 8-13C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from
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