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Greek-Turkish Panel Examines Regional Problems, Potential Solutions

By John Sitilides <>,
Executive Director, The Western Policy Center1

Contact: Spiros Rizopoulos (202) 530-1425

Washington, D.C.
Friday, February 19, 1999

Senior U.S. Government officials from the Departments of State and Defense, and the Intelligence Community, gathered at the Western Policy Center today to discuss Greek-Turkish relations at a "Perspectives Roundtable" featuring Professor Theodore Couloumbis from the University of Athens and Colonel Haldun Solmazturk from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Prof. Couloumbis and Col. Solmazturk addressed current problems and security perceptions between Greece and Turkey, as well as prospects for creative and workable solutions. Their professional backgrounds and extensive experience in Greek-Turkish affairs helped provide the executive branch officials with new insights into the nuances of building a more secure, stable, and prosperous eastern Mediterranean region.

Prof. Couloumbis has been appointed by the Greek Foreign Ministry as one of two Greek experts that are to meet with their Turkish counterparts to examine strategies leading to conflict resolution and reconciliation between the two countries. He holds a Ph.D. in international relations from The American University. He currently serves as Chairman of Political Science and Public Administration at the University of Athens, and as Director General of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP).

Col. Solmazturk is a career infantry officer and a specialist on military strategic planning who served on the Turkish General Staff before his fellowship at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He holds an M.A. degree in international relations from Boston University and has served in key command and staff positions in Somalia, Cyprus, and the Balkans. Col. Solmazturk also served at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Mons, Belgium.

Today's event was the third "Perspectives Roundtable," part of a series at the Western Policy Center, which convenes government officials, foreign policy analysts, and diplomats to exchange ideas and promote solutions to problems among Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus. The Center's next "Perspectives Roundtable," on March 3, will feature U.S. Ambassador to Greece Nicholas Burns before an audience of foreign policy specialists focusing on developments in U.S.-Greek relations, the eastern Mediterranean, and the Balkans.

The series of high quality discussions on the serious issues in the Aegean, Cyprus, and the Balkans began with the Center's first roundtable in November 1998 with Prof. Speros Vryonis, Jr., and Prof. Christos Ioannides of the S.B. Vryonis Center for the Study of Hellenism addressing State Department, Defense Department, and Intelligence Community officials. In January 1999, the Center hosted Greece's Minister of Development, Vasso Papandreou, who discussed "Greece's Economic Leadership Role in the Balkans" before an audience of State Department officials, think-tank analysts, and financial journalists.

1[The Western Policy Center is a public policy corporation promoting U.S. geostrategic interests and Western institutions in southeastern Europe by strengthening the debate on American foreign policy toward NATO allies Greece and Turkey, and toward Cyprus. Based in California since 1994, the Center opened new offices in Washington, D.C. in February 1998.]