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A.N.A. Bulletin, 01/02/96

From: "Greek Press & Information Office, Ottawa Canada" <>

Athens News Agency Directory

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 802), February 1, 1996

Greek Press & Information Office

Ottawa, Canada

E-Mail Address:


  • [1] Crisis in the Aegean over, Gov't comes under fire in Parliament

  • [2] Simitis government wins confidence vote in Parliament

  • [3] Communist party

  • [4] All-night contacts secure a peaceful end

  • [5] Italy says treaty supports Greece's stance

  • [6] Cabinet unanimous in approval

  • [7] Arsenis press conference

  • [8] White House 'pleased' at outcome

  • [9] Government under fire in Parliament

  • [10] Evert: 'a national humiliation'

  • [11] Imia is, and will remain, Greek, Simitis says

  • [12] Evert press conference

  • [13] Mitsotakis: Greece 'weakened, humiliated'

  • [14] Holbrooke due in Athens this month

  • [15] US takes no position on sovereignty

  • [16] Iakovos tells Clinton to get Turkey to respect international law

  • [17] Turks insist on position

  • [18] Batu: agreement a 'victory for common sense'

  • [19] European socialists denounce Turkey's 'gunboat diplomacy'

  • [20] Reactions from European partners

  • [21] Papandreou requests briefing on latest developments

  • [22] Greek delegation to visit FYROM today

  • [1] Crisis in the Aegean over, Gov't comes under fire in Parliament

    Athens, 01/02/1996 (ANA)

    The threat of a war with Turkey receded yesterday after the government Prime Minister Costas Simitis successfully negotiated a peaceful end to the stand-off between Greece and Turkey over the Aegean islet of Imia.

    "The disengagement was achieved without any negotiation whatsoever (on Greece's sovereign rights) with the Turkish side," Mr. Simitis said.

    Naval units which had gathered in the region started to withdraw at 6am yesterday, after the US, on President Clinton's initiative, contacted both Ankara and Athens.

    Opposition parties, however, called the disengagement a defeat for Greece and called on the government to stand down.

    And despite the peaceful end to the crisis, three Greek soldiers are thought dead after their helicopter crashed in bad weather on its return from a reconnaissance flight.

    In another development, Italian diplomats said Greece's positions on sovereignty of the islet were justified.

    [2] Simitis government wins confidence vote in Parliament

    Athens, 01/02/1996 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his new government received a vote of confidence from Parliament early this morning, with 166 deputies in the 300-seat House supporting the motion. The 123 opposition deputies (New Democracy, Political Spring and Communis t party) all voted against while three deputies - one independent and two from ruling party PASOK - abstained. Eight deputies were absent.

    The vote of confidence came after a three-day debate, beginning with Mr. Simitis' presentation of the government's policy statement on Monday night and amidst tension with Turkey in the Aegean.

    Mr. Simitis received a mandate to form a government from President Kostis Stephanopoulos late last week, shortly after being selected by ruling party PASOK deputies to replace ailing party leader Andreas Papandreou as prime minister.

    Before the vote was taken, Mr. Simitis told the House that the events of the past few days "were in no way coincidental", referring to the stand-off with Turkey over the islet of Imia.

    "These events ... occurred with the aim of forcing us to back down on our stated positions, the destabilization of the political system and the weakening of national cohesion," he said.

    "Whoever tries (to do this)," he added, "is knocking on the wrong door".

    He stressed that the government guaranteed the country's interests by refusing to make "futile sacrifices".

    The new realities oblige Greece to reaffirm and enrich its national strategy by carving out a cohesive and tenacious foreign policy, he said, one able to deal with such events on a long-term basis.

    He slammed the main opposition party, New Democracy, and its leader Miltiades Evert, for walking out of Parliament earlier yesterday.

    "Mr. Evert is obliged to tell us what else the Greek government could have done: he chose the easy demagogic way," he said.

    The prime minister said it was obvious that Turkey, with its stance, could not lay claim to accession to the European reality.

    Referring to the role of the United States in defusing the crisis, he said:

    "I acknowledged Mr. Clinton's contribution; it would be wrong to link this acknowledgment with Cold War memories and be led to the criticism of 'dependent policies'. "

    He stressed that the government is determined to do all it has said it will and was sending the Greek people "a message of responsibility, truth and hope".

    He reiterated that the government needed time to be judged and one should not expect "earth-shattering changes from one day to the other".

    "The future can be ours and will be ours," he said.

    [3] Communist party

    Athens, 01/02/1996 (ANA)

    Earlier, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary-General Aleka Papariga said the government was extremely dangerous, adding that not only would its policy continue but it would take a turn for the worse.

    Ms Papariga said the government's policy was most dangerous in the social sector.

    She said the leadership of (the ruling socialist party) PASOK would go ahead with new harsh measures and slogans of modernization, renewal and a centre-left conception which would, she said, create unbelievable wealth, on the one hand, and new poverty o n the other.

    Ms Papariga said the prime minister clarified that development for Greece meant supporting certain enterprises and new professionals.

    "The development you are promising is a development which will make the rich richer and the poor poorer," she added.

    [4] All-night contacts secure a peaceful end

    Athens, 01/02/1996 (ANA)

    Greece and Turkey began withdrawing their naval units from around the islet of Imia in the eastern Aegean at 6am yesterday, after agreement to defuse the tension had been reached overnight through US mediation.

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and National Defense Minister Gerassimos Arsenis announced early yesterday morning the mutual withdrawal of troops that had massed in the region.

    Mr. Pangalos spoke on the phone throughout Tuesday night with US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke, who in turn spoke with Turkish representatives, and clinched an agreement between the two countries to remove their naval units from the are a.

    The tension was sparked by a weekend incident in which Turkish journalists took down the Greek flag from Imia, a rocky islet that came under Greek sovereignty in 1947, under a 1932 protocol signed by then-possesor Italy and Turkey delineating territorial waters in the area.

    A number of ministers were in session with Prime Minister Costas Simitis throughout the night, while the premier also spoke on the phone with US President Bill Clinton, Mr. Pangalos with his US counterpart Warren Christopher and Mr. Arsenis with US counterpart William Perry and chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General John Shalikashvili.

    Mr. Arsenis said approximately 10 Turkish frogmen had "set foot" on the nearby islet of Afrogialia, but added their presence there had not influenced the outcome.

    A Greek naval helicopter crashed early in the morning about two miles north of Imia in Greek territorial waters, and two of its crew members are still missing. The pilot was later found dead.

    The helicopter had taken off from the frigate Navarino in search of the Turkish frogmen, but crashed on returning from the mission.

    Mr. Arsenis said "we are returning to the status quo" and the incident "has ended without harm to Greece's sovereign rights .. and without Greece becoming involved in dialogue (with Turkey)".

    The escalation of tension that arose "from the concentration of battle units created explosive conditions in the area and this is why Greece's position was in favor of gradual de-escalation".

    In response to press questions, the defense minister said the withdrawal had commenced with the larger naval units, was continuing with the smaller ones, and would be "completed with a commitment on the part of Turkey that it will not take any other act ions of sovereignty on the Imia islet complex, it will not land military and it will not bring warships to the surrounding area".

    "This is the agreement we achieved, without negotiating ourselves with the Turks and without a general problem of islets or the Aegean being put forward," Mr. Arsenis said.

    Mr. Pangalos said that although the Turkish military and political leadership had made statements calling Greece to direct negotiations, Athens refused despite the "strong pressures" exerted on it by international organizations and big countries.

    He said Greece did not hold dialogue with Turkey, adding that the withdrawal of units from the area included the group of Turkish frogmen.

    Mr. Holbrooke did not put forward the matter of the Greek flag raised on Imia during their telephone conversation, Mr. Pangalos said, adding that their consultations had focused exclusively on the manner of withdrawal of the naval units from the area, adding that the US would monitor compliance with that agreement.

    To another question, he said there were "no winners or losers," stressing that Greece had not taken any aggressive action "and therefore cannot feel victorious, but in no instance is it a loser either".

    Questioned on the convening of KYSEA, Mr. Arsenis said it had been necessary for formal and legitimate adoption of any decisions taken, adding that "the targets of the meeting were: first, the preservation of Greece's sovereign rights on these islets; second, Greece's non-involvement in dialogue with Turkey; and third, avoidance of an all-out confrontation, which would have had many human victims, since the concentration of fire in the area was immense and a 'hot incident' would have led to a generalized war. And naturally no one wants a generalized war when you can achieve your purpose through discussions, and this is what we achieved".

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the prime minister had briefed President Kostis Stephanopoulos by phone on the agreement reached.

    [5] Italy says treaty supports Greece's stance

    Rome, 01/02/1996 (ANA - L. Hatzikyriakou)

    Italy yesterday effectively vindicated Greece's positions concerning the legal status of the rocky islet of Imia, saying that the ratification of a protocol dated December 28, 1932 between Italy and Turkey delineating territorial waters in the area was unnecessary because it was covered by the ratification of the main agreement dated January 4, 1932.

    According to the Italian diplomats who examined the text of the Italian-Turkish agreement of January 4, 1932 and the protocol of December 28, 1932, ratification of the protocol was unnecessary because, in contrast with the agreement, it referred to an a rea of sea borders between the two countries concerning which there was no dispute between Turkey and Italy.

    In addition, according to an Italian diplomat with the rank of ambassador who is director of Foreign Minister Susanna Agnelli's political office, ratification of the protocol was unnecessary because it was covered by the ratification of the main agreement.

    The diplomat also pointed out the political significance of Turkey's acknowledgment in the 1932 protocol that the territory covered by the protocol (including Imia) did not constitute the subject of any dispute.

    In another development, Greek ambassador to Rome Mr. Frangoulis briefed Ms Agnelli, who is currently president of the European Union Council of Ministers, on the situation created with Turkey.

    [6] Cabinet unanimous in approval

    Athens, 01/02/1996 (ANA)

    The Cabinet yesterday unanimously approved the decisions taken by the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA), government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said that KYSEA had been convened in the early hours of yesterday "for formal and legitimate adoption of any decisions taken" concerning the Greek-Turkish crisis over the islet of Imia.

    Mr. Reppas said that Prime Minister Costas Simitis would convene a new Cabinet meeting "soon" to discuss the policy to be followed by the government with regard to Turkey. The spokesman added that Mr. Simitis would meet with US Ambassador in Athens Thom as Niles, without clarifying when.

    Mr. Reppas reiterated that there had been no negotiations with Turkey with the mediation of the United States, but only dialogue concerning the disengagement of Greek and Turkish military forces.

    He underlined that the only issue which Greece was willing to discuss with Turkey was that of the delineation of the continental shelf in the Aegean.

    [7] Arsenis press conference

    Athens, 01/02/1996 (ANA)

    During a defense ministry press conference in the afternoon, Mr. Arsenis said that the political decision to de-escalate the crisis had not been within the competence of the ministry, but had been made in the context of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA).

    Referring to the fact that 10 Turkish commandos had managed to land on Imia's adjacent islet despite bad weather and Greek vessels patrolling the area, he said there were responsibilities to be apportioned, the matter would be investigated, and the findings submitted to KYSEA.

    Concerning the removal of the Greek flag from Imia, he said it had not been part of the de-escalation agreement, and had been decided in order to avoid the occurrence of new incidents leading to a new 'war of flags', as the area is not guarded well.

    "The flag was not lowered. We removed the flag together with the guard," he said.

    Mr. Arsenis said that Turkey's objections wielded no advantage, and added that Ankara had entered into a commitment with the Americans that its vessels would not approach the Imia area.

    He denied that the American side had imposed a solution or arbitration.

    [8] White House 'pleased' at outcome

    Washington, 01/02/1996 (AFP/ANA)

    The White House announced yesterday that President Bill Clinton was pleased with the end of military tensions between Greece and Turkey after a day of intense mediation.

    White House spokesman Michael McCurry said the president was satisfied that his telephone calls had had an impact, which quickly became clear through the reaching of an agreement.

    Mr. McCurry said the US government had to act in order to defuse "what could have been a dangerous confrontation between two close allies of the United States."

    This "team effort" on behalf of the US administration was pursued "all day yesterday, an effort was made on all levels by our government in order to reach a diplomatic solution, through using our military-to-military contacts, to obtain this defusion," said the White House spokesman.

    Mr. McCurry also stressed the roles played in the crisis by head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili, Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Richard Holbrooke.

    [9] Government under fire in Parliament

    Athens, 01/02/1996 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis told Parliament yesterday that the Greek government had achieved the disengagement of the Greek and Turkish naval forces around the Imia islet in the eastern Aegean without any negotiation with Ankara.

    "The Greek government achieved the disengagement of the Greek and Turkish forces around Imia and the defusion of the crisis.

    "The disengagement was achieved without any negotiation whatsoever with the Turkish side.

    "Turkey's aspiration to force Greece into negotiations on the legal status of the islets was in this way canceled out," Mr. Simitis told the 300-member House on the sidelines of a three-day debate on the new government's policy statement.

    "The Imia islet is, and will remain, Greek," he said, expressing his gratitude to the Greek Armed Forces "for the high morale and readiness they displayed."

    The prime minister expressed his grief at the loss of the three-member crew of a Greek naval helicopter that crashed about two miles north of Imia, "who were lost in the line of duty."

    He thanked the US government for what he called their "initiative and help" in defusing the crisis.

    Turkey, he said, had "once again proved that it respects neither the rules of international law nor its commitments arising from the alliances to which it belongs," and would find before it the attitude it had itself provoked.

    "Our message is clear. Greece's reaction will be strong, immediate and effective, always and everywhere," Mr. Simitis said.

    Ruling PASOK party deputy and former defense minister Antonis Drossoyiannis accused National Defense Minister Gerassimos Arsenis of being responsible for the fact that the armed forces were not at the highest possible level of battle-readiness, adding that he ought to have resigned.

    Mr. Simitis, however, expressed his full support for the national defense minister and the leadership of the armed forces, saying that they had done their duty.

    Mr. Arsenis said that the fighting capability of the armed forces had not been tested. "If we had taken such a decision, have no doubt that the Greek armed forces would have won," Mr. Arsenis said.

    [10] Evert: 'a national humiliation'

    Athens, 01/02/1996 (ANA)

    Speaking after Mr. Simitis, main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert criticized the government over its handling of the crisis and called for it to resign.

    He accused the government of "not telling the truth to the Greek people" and failing to respect Greece's national rights. He said the government's incompetence had led to what he called "Greece's national humiliation".

    Mr. Evert said the "withdrawal of the Greek military forces and the lowering of the flag" on the rocky islet of Imia "constitute abandonment of national territory and an act of treason."

    "For the first time Greece lowers its flag and withdraws its troops from Greek territory," Mr. Evert said. He charged a "Turkish military action" resulted in "the seizure of national territory, albeit for a few hours."

    Mr. Evert said the government had "compromised" the Greek Armed Forces "when they were ready to do their duty". It was obvious, he said, that the government had not been in a position to perceive either the planning or the trap set by the Turks.

    He said the government had proved its incompetence even before receiving a vote of confidence.

    Political Spring party leader Antonis Samaras said that Greece had suffered an "unprecedented defeat", adding that the Simitis government had "given in 100 per cent to Turkish demands by bowing to pressure from the US, who are the first to blame for accepting that earlier demands of Turkey could be the object of negotiation."

    Mr. Samaras accused the government of turning the Aegean into a second Bosnia with US mediation, and called on the government to resign.

    Both New Democracy and Political Spring walked out of Parliament for the remainder of the debate on the policy statement, saying they would return for the vote at midnight last night.

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga asked Mr. Arsenis what role NATO, the EU and the US naval base at Souda on Crete played during the crisis.

    Mr. Arsenis replied that NATO had been "useful", adding that Greece's aim at the EU intergovernmental conference this year would be to have the view adopted that Greece's borders are also the borders of the European Union.

    He said that he had no information about any involvement of the Souda base in the Greek-Turkish crisis, expressing the view that the US would have been monitoring developments by satellite.

    Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos stated after being briefed by Mr. Pangalos that it was clear that the country was "facing the conditions and consequences of a serious failure".

    He added that "picture of the Greek prime minister thanking the United States at the hour of failure provokes peoples' sensitivities. The United States encouraged and promoted with its policy, and imposed the scene of the failure".

    [11] Imia is, and will remain, Greek, Simitis says

    Athens, 01/02/1996 (ANA)

    Mr. Simitis took the floor for the second time to reject accusations leveled by the opposition parties, saying that "Greece was ready for a confrontation and would have proceeded to such a confrontation without hesitation if it had been necessary."

    The premier strongly criticized New Democracy and Political Spring, stressing that it was the conservative political grouping which had in the past made Greece "dependent", while PASOK had changed things since 1981.

    Mr. Simitis said that no one feared confrontation and all were willing to serve the homeland. He added, however, that confrontation and duty must be aimed at defending the homeland and its interests. "And it was with these principles that the government acted," he said.

    Mr. Simitis said there had been fears that any incident would not have been of a limited extent and that a conflagration would have quickly broadened.

    He added that after "three to seven" days of war, Greece could have emerged victorious, but that the victory would not have been such that would put an end to the issue once and for all.

    The result of such an entanglement, he said, would have been the intervention of NATO, the UN and other international organizations and Greece would, therefore, have eventually been forced to sit at the negotiating table "which is something we never wanted".

    The only satisfactory solution for Greece was disengagement, Mr. Simitis said, adding that Athens had been obliged to take advantage of the possibility provided by the US initiative, which Greece had, however, not requested.

    He said that the solution which had been given did not change anything whatsoever with regard to the legal status of Imia. The premier stressed that the 1932 protocol between Italy and Turkey remained effective, as was the delineation of the border in t he area and the right of Greek fishermen to fish in nearby waters and of Greek shepherds to graze their flocks.

    "Nothing has changed with respect to the status of the rocky islets and this was what Greece aspired to and attained," he said.

    The prime minister said that Turkey's main demand at the time the US initiative was manifested was that there should be negotiations "on the substance" of the issue, "which did not take place". He added that the only discussion concerned the disengagement procedure.

    On the withdrawal of the Greek flag, Mr. Simitis assured that there had been no discussion on the issue with Mr. Holbrooke, "since Greece made it clear that there could be no discussion of such a matter."

    "It was our decision that when the Greek force departed (from Imia) they should take the flag with them," Mr. Simitis said, justifying the decision by stressing that the islet was unprotected.

    Mr. Simitis said that there were enormous difficulties in the region of Imia which prevented the situation from being kept under full control.

    The decision to remove the Greek flag, the premier said, had also been influenced by the possibility that such incidents might possibly recur in the future. He added, however, that "we have the capability to raise the Greek flag on all the rocky islets and we shall do so when necessary."

    Expressing satisfaction with the Greek armed forces, Mr. Simitis said that all officers were determined to take any measures to defend national interests.

    Mr. Simitis accused New Democracy of "trading on patriotism in order to crawl out of the depths into which it has fallen. But we shall not play this game."

    He said that national humiliation begins from a lack of strength "and this was clear when the conservative governments used to visit the ambassadors of the United States in order to be told what to do."

    "There is a long way to go until we become a strong country," he concluded. "We shall fight for it and succeed."

    "We would have been led to a conflagration with Turkey," Mr. Arsenis later told Parliament during the discussion of the tension in Greek-Turkish relations.

    He said that enormous firepower had been assembled in the vicinity of Imia by both sides and that the Greek leadership had two choices - confrontation which would have led to all-out war, or the de-escalation of tension together with the safeguarding of Greece's sovereign rights.

    Mr. Arsenis told the House that US Defense Secretary William Perry had telephoned him at about 22:00 local time Tuesday night and asked to be briefed on Greece's positions.

    Before the telephone call, he continued, "we had come to the decision that a de-escalation of the crisis was the preferable target, compared to military conflict."

    Ninety minutes later, Mr. Arsenis said, Mr. Perry called again to tell him the Turks were insisting that Greece should withdraw its forces before the Turkish withdrawal.

    "And while we were engaged in dialogue with the Americans, at 03:00 hours we were informed that ten Turkish commandos ... had landed on the second rock of the Imia islet," Mr. Arsenis said.

    The minister said that a helicopter was sent to confirm the report and that on returning, the pilot suffered an attack of dizziness and the helicopter crashed into the sea.

    Mr. Arsenis said that if the Greek armed forces had wanted to capture the Turkish frogmen, they would have succeeded in doing so, adding "let no one doubt this."

    He said, however, that this would have led to a clash and all-out war, which in turn would have resulted in negotiations, "something which we want to avoid and is a fixed target of our foreign policy."

    Therefore the decision was taken to return to the previous status quo in the region, Mr. Arsenis said, adding that "war was avoided, but we must now re-examine Greek-Turkish relations from the beginning".

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos told Parliament that the government had attained its targets.

    "We succeeded in our four targets. Namely to avoid negotiations with Turkey, to avoid the specific dialogue about Imia, to impose a peaceful settlement and not to commit ourselves with respect to the future," he said.

    Addressing himself to his PASOK colleagues, Mr. Pangalos said he did not have the feeling that Greece's national interests had not been defended "and I do not accept lessons in patriotism from anyone."

    Referring to his contacts with Mr. Holbrooke, Mr. Pangalos said "the proposal was that there should be no negotiations with Turkey and that disengagement should begin. There was no demand on the part of Mr. Holbrooke regarding the flag."

    "We considered that there should be no flag. It is not a question of the flag having been lowered," Mr. Pangalos said, adding the situation did not leave him very happy.

    "Even if we were an all-powerful military power, we would still be led to the negotiating table. Conflict leads to the negotiating table and our aim was to avoid this completely," Mr. Pangalos said.

    Meanwhile, it was announced that Mr. Simitis had met with President Kostis Stephanopoulos for 30 minutes to brief him on the latest developments concerning Imia.

    [12] Evert press conference

    Athens, 01/02/1996 (ANA)

    During a press conference on the now defused Greek-Turkish crisis, New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert referred to serious omissions on the part of the government "that edge on the limits of national treason," and that the prime minister had "tried to justify the unjustifiable".

    "From the moment the Turks occupied the Greek islet, there should have been a similar military reaction from Greece," he said.

    He added that it should be investigated whether the helicopter which crashed was fired upon, and accused the government of not telling the truth to the Greek people because it lacked "the courage, the boldness, and the ethos to do so".

    He announced that his party would undertake initiatives in the European Union and the United States for the restoration of Greece's prestige, but wondered, "what was ultimately agreed between the government and the United States, and what commitments the Greek government has entered into".

    He said his party would not remain inert, and expressed the view that it was wrong to "attribute responsibilities to third parties, such as the United States, due to our own lack of preparedness. Woe betide if we are fatalistic, that because there are big powers, possibly opposed to our interests, we are condemned".

    He called on deputies to cast their ballots according to conscience in last night's confidence vote on the government's policy statement, "because above party discipline, there is Greece".

    [13] Mitsotakis: Greece 'weakened, humiliated'

    Athens, 01/02/1996 (ANA)

    Honorary main opposition New Democracy president Constantine Mitsotakis said in a press release yesterday that Greece had come out of the most recent crisis "weakened and humiliated," while Greek-Turkish relations had sunk even lower, damaging both countries and the general mood in the region.

    Mr. Mitsotakis said the way Washington had dealt with the incident had created "mistrust" in Greece, complicating any future attempt at mediation.

    "The government maintained it refused to directly talk with the Turks, but retreated in an unacceptable manner," Mr. Mitsotakis said.

    The former premier referred to the events and discussions the government has undertaken, adding that it was the first time Ankara had so blatantly doubted international agreements regulating the Aegean's status quo.

    "This (incident) by definition makes any dialogue with them impossible, as long as they maintain this position. Greece will under no circumstances allow international agreements regulating the Aegean's status quo to be questioned," Mr. Mitsotakis said.

    He said the United States, as the only superpower, can play a decisive role, adding, however, that "whoever assumes this mission, either Mr. (Richard) Holbrooke or anyone else, should know that whatever American mediation must begin with the just and permanent solution of the Cyprus problem."

    Mr. Mitsotakis added that if Greece is forced to discuss the Aegean, then Athens should exercise its rights under international law and expand territorial waters to 12 nautical miles.

    [14] Holbrooke due in Athens this month

    Athens, 01/02/1996 (ANA)

    US Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Richard Holbrooke is due in Athens in the first half of February, US Ambassador to Greece Thomas Niles announced yesterday after a meeting with Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos at the foreign ministry.

    Mr. Niles told reporters after the meeting that "the news today is much better than yesterday", adding that he had discussed with Mr. Pangalos Washington's contacts with Athens and Ankara over the problem that had arisen in the Aegean.

    Mr. Niles expressed US satisfaction over having contributed "to the resolution of the immediate problem."

    He said in reply to press questions that an effort was being made to set the specific dates for the Holbrooke visit, and expressed his personal opinion that it would take place in early February.

    Asked whether the visit was in relation to the Cyprus problem or would extend also to other issues, such as the Aegean, Mr. Niles said:

    "The visit was scheduled to deal with the Cyprus issue. But we have an apparent problem, the fact that a government has yet to be formed in Turkey."

    "Apart from the major issue of Cyprus, it is my conviction that the assistant secretary will come to Athens in the first half of February," Mr. Niles added.

    Replying to a questioner on whether his government intended to continue the initiative it had undertaken on Tuesday, he said the initiative would not be continued, at least in the shape it had on Tuesday since "yesterday's efforts focused on the specific issue and for whose success we express our satisfaction."

    Asked whether there would be a US intervention to have Greek-Turkish relations normalized, Mr. Niles said "not immediately" since there were no immediate plans.

    "This is an issue for future discussions," he said.

    [15] US takes no position on sovereignty

    Washington, 01/02/1996 (ANA - L. Papantoniou)

    State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said yesterday that the United States did not take positions on the matter of sovereignty and that it believed Greece and Turkey ought to co-operate in order to find a solution t o the problem, as well as to others dividing the two countries. He added that the US will talk with both governments on a daily basis, and stressed that Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke will visit the Aegean before his departure from the State Department, sometime before the end of February. When asked why the United States would not take a position on the issue of sovereignty, he stated "I think ... that this constitutes the heart of the problem, the sovereignty of this island. As you know, the United States is an ally of both countries, which are NATO members. And I repeat that the matter of sovereignty is the heart of the problem on this island, which has two names, a Greek one and a Turkish one. And the US prefers not to take a public position on the matter of sovereignty."

    [16] Iakovos tells Clinton to get Turkey to respect international law

    New York, 01/02/1996 (ANA)

    In an address to US President Bill Clinton, Archbishop for North and South America Iakovos called on the president to demand that Turkey respect international laws and agreements.

    Iakovos criticized the State Department's "on equal terms" handling of the affair, which he said was a Turkish provocation against Greece.

    "Cool-headedness should prevail in our government's relations with Tansu Ciller, who is engaged in a frantic effort to distract her people's attention from the Kurdish problem, the Islamic problem and other political and economic problems of her country , applying their (the Turks') traditional policy of intimidation, insults and destruction of Greece.

    "Mr. President, in the name of our democratic principles and continuous efforts for world peace, I implore you to emphatically request from our Turkish allies that they respect international laws and agreements. (Former US secretary of state in the 1950 s) John Foster Dulles' disreputable policy should not be revived."

    [17] Turks insist on position

    Istanbul, 01/02/1996 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    A Turkish foreign ministry spokesman said yesterday that Ankara's positions remained the same "as before the crisis".

    "We state that, according to international law, the rocky islets Kardak (Imia) belong to Turkey. We have told Greece that we are ready for negotiations. Let them come to the discussion table so we can talk," foreign ministry spokesman Omer Akbel said.

    "Common sense won out," Turkish President Suleyman Demirel said. "There was a danger of a greater crisis."

    The Turkish president said "Turkey is committed to solving all problems with its neighbors in peaceful ways."

    Striking a more nationalistic note, caretaker Prime Minister Tansu Ciller said she had kept her promise to remove the Greek flag and soldiers from Imia.

    "The Greek flag was taken down; the Greek soldiers left," Ms Ciller said in brief statements to the press. "We kept our promise to the Turkish people in a very short time period."

    Echoing other Turkish officials' statements, she added that the crisis could be permanently settled with dialogue and negotiations.

    Mr. Akbel last night said Turkish forces withdrew 15 minutes after Greek forces, adding that no flags remained on the two tiny Imia islets.

    He said Ankara was pleased with the removal of both Turkish and Greek troops from the area.

    According to a dispatch from the Anadolu news agency, Turkey reportedly withdrew a group of soldiers it placed on the smaller Imia islet early yesterday morning.

    Mr. Akbel said Ankara appreciated the efforts of all its allies and especially the United States.

    "From the beginning we favored a solution to such problems with peaceful means and through negotiations," he said. "Faits accomplis do not bring results. In the end, we are satisfied that common sense won out and the crisis is over."

    Turkish Foreign Minister Deniz Baykal also expressed satisfaction at what he said was the removal of Greek troops from the uninhabited rocky islet.

    Earlier, in statements to Turkish television, Mr. Baykal indirectly referred to a disengagement agreement, saying "we will leave as well."

    In announcing the overnight landing of several Turkish soldiers on one of the two islands, he also said "if the Greek soldiers leave, we will leave too."

    [18] Batu: agreement a 'victory for common sense'

    Athens, 01/02/1996 (ANA)

    Ankara's Assistant Foreign Under-secretary Inal Batu told a Thessaloniki radio station yesterday that the agreement reached to defuse the crisis between Greece and Turkey "was not a victory for either side but a victory for common sense."

    In a press bulletin released by the "Paratiritis" (Observer) radio station, Mr. Batu added that everyone in Turkey was relieved at the agreement.

    Mr. Batu rhetorically asked what "alternatives existed," before saying he did not wish to even contemplate the possibility of conflict. The assistant foreign under-secretary reiterated Turkish positions that there should be dialogue between Athens and Ankara, expressing disagreement with Greece's long-standing position that the only difference between the two countries was the delineation of the Aegean continental shelf, which Greece maintains should be referred to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

    "We should not send our armies to confront one another with faits accomplis, but rather we should act with greater self-restraint and discuss everything within the framework of a broad dialogue," Mr. Batu said.

    [19] European socialists denounce Turkey's 'gunboat diplomacy'

    Brussels, 01/02/1996 (AFP/ANA-G. Daratos, M. Savva)

    The president of the European Socialist Group in the European Parliament Pauline Green denounced Ankara's "gunboat diplomacy" yesterday, during the opening of the plenary session in Brussels yesterday.

    Ms Green said the European Parliament was particularly worried at Turkey's attempts to question the European Union's southeastern borders.

    She noted that the EU made a gesture of goodwill to Turkey by ratifying the customs union recently and yet now, Turkey believed "it can insult us".

    "As we approach the end of the century, this gunboat diplomacy is unacceptable," Ms Green added.

    During question time to European Commission President Jacques Santer, former Belgian prime minister Wilfried Martens asked why the EU had not achieved the defusion of the crisis when the matter concerned a conflict between an EU member-state and a country with which the EU had a customs union for the past month.

    Mr. Santer said he was concerned with the issue, but added that the European Commission had no power in foreign policy, an area that can only be dealt with by the Council of Ministers of the European Union.

    However, he continued, "we cannot tolerate a state with which we have just entered into a customs union developing territorial demands on a European Union member state."

    German Eurodeputy Magdalena Hoff asked Mr. Santer whether Europe's reaction would have been stronger if the European Union's flag had been placed on the Imia islet. Mr. Santer expressed his approval, and stated he would put the matter to "my Greek friends".

    Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said from Copenhagen yesterday that it would be "wise" to avoid answering Greek criticism of NATO regarding the Greek-Turkish conflict.

    Mr. Solana said that "it is wise, at this moment, for nothing to be added to this sensitive issue," and stressed that "the difference is not within NATO's responsibilities."

    According to reliable sources, Greek permanent representative to NATO, Ambassador Zafiropoulos fully briefed Mr. Solana and his counterparts from other member states on Athens' positions on the matter.

    According to the same sources, the Greek government ordered Mr. Zafiropoulos not to discuss the matter during yesterday's regular weekly meeting between the NATO permanent representatives, as Greece does not want any discussion with Turkey on matters concerning Greece's national sovereignty.

    [20] Reactions from European partners

    London, 01/02/1996 (ANA)

    British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind yesterday welcomed the withdrawal of Greek and Turkish naval forces from the southeastern Aegean.

    The foreign office released the following statement by Mr. Rifkind on the recent tension between Greece and Turkey:

    "I warmly welcome the news that Greek and Turkish naval forces have started withdrawing from the region. I communicated with the Greek and Turkish foreign ministers last night to recommend to them a need for self-restraint. It is important that NATO partners, such as Greece and Turkey, resolve issues peacefully through discussions."

    In Paris, French foreign ministry spokesman Jacques Rummelhardt yesterday expressed "France's satisfaction over the withdrawal of the two sides from the zone of the islet of Imia in the Aegean", saying that it was a basic precondition towards defusing t he situation.

    "France believes that the first steps taken to defuse the crisis favor a climate of dialogue," he said, adding that "the decision taken by Ankara and Athens corresponds to the interest of allies and friends, such as France, to see their differences resolved in a peaceful manner."

    In Bonn, German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel appealed to both sides for a de-escalation in tension.

    "The issue was a topic in our discussions in Brussels last Monday. The only thing I can do is to make an appeal to both sides not to allow themselves to fall into a trap. Americans and Europeans appeal to the prudent on both sides not to allow tension t o escalate."

    [21] Papandreou requests briefing on latest developments

    Athens, 01/02/1996 (ANA)

    According to his doctors, ruling PASOK party president Andreas Papandreou is particularly concerned about the latest tension in Greek-Turkish relations and is continuously asking to be briefed on the latest developments.

    Doctors said he made no comment because he wanted a detailed briefing on the issue which had arisen before expressing any view.

    Mr. Papandreou's condition was developing satisfactorily as he continued to undergo physiotherapy to facilitate his breathing, a medical bulletin issued by the Onassion Hospital said yesterday. The bulletin added that Mr. Papandreou was to undergo dialysis some time yesterday.

    Mr. Papandreou's doctors said that the former premier had been breathing without the aid of a respirator for the last four days and that if his respiratory function continued without mechanical support for more than seven days, they would probably take the decision to close the tracheotomy at the end of the week. On the question of when the patient would be discharged from hospital, although all avoid making any predictions, doctors said this would depend on whether Mr. Papandreou's transfer to the United States was considered imperative and after he was examined by a specialist arriving in Athens today. If Mr. Papandreou stays in Greece for his recovery, doctors believe that he will remain in hospital at least until the end of February.

    [22] Greek delegation to visit FYROM today

    Athens, 01/02/1996 (ANA)

    A Greek delegation will visit the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to start two days of political consultations today, a foreign ministry announcement said yesterday.

    The announcement added that the consultations would provide the opportunity for both sides to assess the implementation to date of the interim agreement concluded by Athens and Skopje on September 13 last year as well as the relevant memorandums on the practical measures for normalizing relations between the two countries.

    The two sides will also examine ways to further promote bilateral co-operation in all sectors foreseen under the interim agreement and memorandums, the foreign ministry said, adding that "the more general developments in the Balkan region" would also be discussed.

    End of English language section.

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