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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-11-21

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


ATHENS, Greece, 21/11/1996 (ANA)


  • Greece rules out Aegean-Cyprus package dialogue with Turkey
  • IGC,other EU-related issues dominate Simitis-Prodi talks
  • Cyprus foreign minister in Athens, Tsohatzopoulos leaves for Nicosia today
  • OTE development programme announced


    Greece rules out Aegean-Cyprus package dialogue with Turkey

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos today categorically ruled out the possibility of Greece accepting to enter into a dialogue with Turkey on issues pertaining to the Aegean together with the Cyprus problem as a ''package''.

    Pangalos said the Greek side also ruled out any simultaneous recourse to the International Court at the Hague over the issue of the Imia islets and the Aegean continental shelf.

    Greece and Turkey came to the brink of war earlier this year after Ankara openly disputed Greek sovereignty of the uninhabited Aegean islets of Imia.

    Pangalos was speaking at a press conference exclusively on the issue of Greek-Turkish relations, in order, as he put it, ''to clear up any confusion about Greece's foreign policy''.

    The Greek government, he said, remains unswerving in its position that it is not possible to discuss the Cyprus problem and the issues pertaining to the Aegean at the same time and together ''as a single set of negotiations''.

    He said he considered it to be self-evident that the possibility of some favourable development in the Cyprus problem could have favourable repercussions on Greek-Turkish relations, adding however that ''the opposite is also true''.

    Pangalos clarified that this position emanated first of all from the fact that Cyprus was an independent state whose international entity was recognized not only by Greece but also by the entire international community, with the exception of Turkey.

    Pangalos clarified also that as far as Greece was concerned there could be no question of a ''package'' including both the Imia and continental shelf issues.

    ''This is because the concept of a package presupposes issues on which there can be concessions from either side, while it is a given fact that any Greek-Turkish 'package' can concern nothing more than Turkish claims, the acceptance of which would mean total capitulation for Greece, and this will never happen.

    Pangalos went on to point out that a new issue of enormous importance had arisen in Greek-Turkish relations, consisting in the putting forward of territorial claims by Ankara against Greece, ''a fact which has radically changed the political framework of our relations''.

    The minister called on all parties, at home and abroad, to understand the importance of this issue which, he said, must be eliminated either by virtue of an express declaration on the part of Turkey or by Ankara's decision to have recourse to the International Court of Justice at the Hague ''even though this would be a great diplomatic sacrifice and concession on our part''.

    Pangalos said however that Turkey did not accept this logic because it wanted to maintain a framework of relations between the two countries ''based on the correlation of power, the threat of force and the military superiority which the neighbouring country presume that it has''.

    Greece, Pangalos stressed, had no other option but to deal with Turkey ''which behaves like an international thug'' in like manner, namely with armaments.

    ''If Turkey listens to reason and states that it will have recourse to the Hague, the circumstances of relations between our two countries will change radically, just as they changed for the worse because of the Imia incident, '' he said.

    Regarding the Aegean continental shelf, Pangalos said ''we must agree to its referral (to the Hague) on the basis of the Law of the Sea''.

    On the basis of this position, he continued, Greece will discuss with Turkey ''when the time comes, the issue of entering into an agreement to have the matter referred to the International Court for arbitration''.

    Noting however that Turkey rejected implementation of the Law of the Sea, Pangalos invited Ankara to participate ''in a joint discussion concerning the legal rules on the basis of which we shall discuss the issue of delineating the continental shelf''.

    In the meantime and in order for there to be a climate of security in the Aegean, Pangalos reiterated Greece's call for the implementation of the memorandum agreement reached in 1988 by then Greek and Turkish foreign ministers Karolos Papoulias and Mesut Yilmaz respectively.

    In 1988, Papoulias and Yilmaz agreed in the seaside resort of Vouliagmeni near Athens to promote confidence-building measures between the two countries based on the principle of good-neighbourliness.

    Asked by reporters if the government would be willing to accept the simultaneous referral of the Imia and continental shelf issues to the Hague, Pangalos replied with an emphatic ''no''.

    He went on to explain that the Imia issue constituted a territorial claim ''which is a different issue from that of the continental shelf''.

    At this point, Foreign Undersecretary Christos Rozakis clarified a number of legal points concerning the possibility of an agreement to refer the continental shelf issue to arbitration.

    He said he was making the clarifications because there were ''fundamental differences between Greece and Turkey regarding both the legal rules and the actual area for delineation''.

    The recent development concerning the Greek island of Gavdos, he said, indicated a change in Turkey's stance ''on disputed material'', since Ankara had extended its dispute ''to a broader area, that is to an island situated hundreds of miles from the Aegean''.

    The Gavdos issue arose earlier this year when a Turkish naval officer requested that the inhabited Greek island, situated off the southern coast of Crete, be excluded from the planning of a NATO exercise, claiming that it constituted a so-called ''disputed area''.

    ''This changed the situation because up to then the continental shelf issue concerned the area of the Eastern Aegean,'' Rozakis said.

    Intervening, Pangalos categorically rejected subsequent statements by certain Turkish officials attributing the Gavdos issue to a mistake on the part of the Turkish navy. He also strongly rejected a Turkish report disputing Greek sovereignty of dozens of rocky islets in the Aegean, saying it was quite inconceivable that Turkey should consider ''that whatever is not (specifically) named in the Treaty of Lausanne is disputable''.

    Pangalos stressed that in addition to clearing up any confusion, his statements today also constituted a reply to Turkish proposals pertaining to relations between the two countries which, he continued, were of the type ''let's sit around a table and sort things out, without a legal framework, without any principles and in a climate of tension, force and war''.

    Pangalos, who later hosted a working lunch for the ambassadors of the European Union member states in Athens, also spoke about EU-Turkish relations, in effect announcing a Greek veto at the next General Affairs Council on November 25.

    Greece, he said, had already made numerous concessions and gestures of good will towards Turkey but was not willing to consent to the convening of the EU-Turkey Association Council, which has been persistently requested by many EU member states, nor to an invitation to lunch to the Turkish premier from Irish premier John Bruton on the sidelines of the forthcoming EU summit meeting in Dublin.

    Pangalos said that if the Irish presidency decided ''unilaterally'' and ''mistakenly'' on these two issues, Greece would react accordingly and raise all the issues to which Turkey must reply.

    He reiterated that Athens was not prepared to budge from the joint position adopted by the 15 EU foreign ministers last July and described as ''unacceptable'' the Turkish assertion that Greek-Turkish relations was an issue unrelated to Turkish-EU relations.

    ''This position of ours is a consequence of implementing the principle of (Community) solidarity and it is unacceptable that Europe should try to convey the message to Turkey that it can act without any control whatsoever, '' Pangalos said.

    He clarified that if the EU did not understand this and did not accept ''verbatim'' the joint position of the ''15'' of last July, ''then there will be no joint position at the next council''.

    Pangalos stressed that the international community could not play second fiddle to Turkey's inclinations and called for an examination of ''ways to impose military and economic measures which will force Ankara to behave in a civilised manner''.

    Asked if a US initiative to help mend Greek-Turkish relations would be welcomed by Athens, Pangalos replied that ''the United States, which sometimes seeks Greece's assistance, ask us to do or refrain from doing certain things and we, in turn, decide to do some things and not to do other things''.

    As a typical example, Pangalos cited the fact that the US asked Greece not to support the re-appointment of UN Secretary General Boutros Ghali, ''but Greece considers his term in office to have been satisfactory and therefore supports him''.

    ''We do not accept intervention, suzerainty and instructions from anyone. We do however accept proposals, advice and ideas from everyone,'' he said.

    Developments in the European Union in relation to the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) as well as Mediterranean and Balkan issues were the main topics of discussion here yesterday between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his Italian counterpart Romano Prodi.

    Italian mass media and the Greek side stressed that the meeting was particularly positive since an identity of views was ascertained, particularly on the IGC and the Balkans.

    Regarding the IGC, the two premiers agreed that procedural rules were needed that would simplify matters and lead to quick and effective decisions. Nevertheless, certain differences in approaches were identified, with Mr. Simitis stressing Athens' posit ion in favour of the principle of unanimity on issues of national interest.

    On Balkan issues both Rome and Athens almost had identical positions since Mr. Prodi believes that there should be a new Balkan policy.

    In the wake of its strong presence in Albania and the major problems faced by Tirana, he accepted many of the ideas and proposals put to him by Mr. Simitis concerning both Albania, and the Balkans in general, reports said.

    A broad field of cooperation was agreed for the examination of existing plans, and it was considered expedient to establish six-monthly contacts between the directors general of the ministries of foreign affairs and national economy of the two countries .

    Regarding EMU, Mr. Prodi said he considered his country's participation in the first group of countries imperative, while Mr. Simitis said Greece had decided to participate in the second group, with the aim of meeting precondition for convergence in 1998 through a drastic reduction in deficits, down to 4.2 per cent of GDP.

    On another topic, Mr. Prodi assured his Greek counterpart that difficulties in beginning construction of an electric hookup between Greece and Italy would be overcome.

    EU-Turkey relations

    Concerning Ankara, Mr. Simitis reiterated that any progress in EU-Turkish relations was currently dependent on Turkey's reply to a Council of Ministers' decision in July, which calls on Ankara to affirm its commitment to human rights and international agreements, among others.

    "The EU has adopted a decision in relation to these problems. Greece is awaiting Ankara's reply, which has still not been given, and is a basic precondition for any development. Without a move on Turkey's part, the EU must not shift from its views," Mr. Simitis said from the Italian capital.

    Regarding Greek-Turkish differences and Cyprus, he stressed that "we are in agreement with Italy that the rules of international law and treaties must be applied".

    Cyprus Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides met with National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday evening and discussed developments in national issues, particularly the Cyprus problem, as well as other bilateral matters. Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said his scheduled visit to Cyprus was also discussed.

    The Greek minister is scheduled to leave on a four-day visit to Cyprus today. Speaking after the meeting, Mr. Michaelides said the joint defence doctrine between Greece and Cyprus is a pertinent issue for the defence and existence of Cyprus.

    OTE development programme announced

    An ambitious investment programme in the Balkans and the Black Sea region totalling some 100 billion drachmas over the next five years (1996-2000) was announced yesterday by Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) officials.

    The programme aims to keep OTE in touch with competitors in the area of cooperation and to turn Greece into a telecommunications network connecting western Europe to Africa via the Balkans.

    Officials said a mobile telephone system to be developed by OTE is scheduled to be completed during summer or autumn 1997. OTE's participation in services, construction programmes, technical know-how and its involvement in underwater cables make the org anisation an active participant in the world telecommunications market.


    Sunny to partly cloudy with moderate southern winds in most parts of the country. Temperatures will range from 11-18C in Athens and from 7-14C in Thessaloniki.


    U.S. dlr 235.005 Can. dlr.174.909, Australian dlr. 186.987 Pound sterling 394.102, Irish punt 395.114, Cyprus pd 514.848, French franc 46.309, Swiss franc 185.770 Belgian franc 7.601, German mark 156.637 Finnish mark 51.983, Dutch guilder 139.664 Danish Kr. 40.795, Swedish Kr. 35.547, Norwegian Kr. 37.202, Austrian Sh. 22.251, Italian lira (100) 15.608 Yen (100) 211.167 Spanish Peseta 1.862, Portuguese Escudo 1.550.


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