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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-02-26

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 26/02/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • 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"
  • Weather
  • 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 pressures".

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 other candidates".

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 security".

"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.

Opposition reaction

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 the EU.

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 point.

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 Aegean.

The message being sent by Greece, he said, was that it would bow to pressure.

"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 did.

He also charged that Turkey had not accepted the process of an experts' committee within the framework of the European Union.

WEATHER

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 5-11C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 282.928 Pound sterling 466.379 Cyprus pd 535.680 French franc 46.826 Swiss franc 193.852 German mark 156.964 Italian lira (100) 15.903 Yen (100) 222.228 Canadian dlr. 198.737 Australian dlr. 188.877 Irish Punt 390.372 Belgian franc 7.607 Finnish mark 51.723 Dutch guilder 139.282 Danish kr. 41.174 Swedish kr. 35.339 Norwegian kr. 37.500 Austrian sch. 22.312 Spanish peseta 1.852 Port. Escudo 1.536

(Y.B.)


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