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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-06-04

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] New call for court to mend Greek-Turkish ties

  • [01] New call for court to mend Greek-Turkish ties

    The former president of the republic, Kostis Stephanopoulos, has restated that employing the International Court at the Hague is an option for the resolution of differences with Turkey, and that demilitarisation of the Aegean islands would be an error until agreement is reached.

    "Militarisation of the (eastern Aegean) islands is necessary as long as there is a threat....After a total decision on all matters at the court, if such a decision is obtained and our relations with Turkey are definitively settled, then there would no longer be a danger of war, nor danger for the islands," Stephanopoulos said in an article published in the Sunday Kathimerini newspaper.

    Stephanopoulos, a popular and respected president who served two consecutive terms, initially stated his case for use of the international court in an article last week that sparked a storm of debate among politicians and the public.

    "The article's basic concept was to find a solution for all Greek-Turkish differences, in order to restore calm in the two countries' ties. Only when we propose referral of all our differences to the international court will Turkey be compelled to accept the court's jurisdiction, which it has so far sought to avoid," the ex-president stated.

    "My proposal seeks avoidance not only of war, but also of heated incidents. My patriotism and my rationale remain intact, and have not been hurt by comments against my article," Stephanopoulos noted.

    He also welcomed both the support and opposition that the article had generated as a stimulus to debate and action.

    Stephanopoulos also responded to statements by the defence minister on demilitarisation of the eastern Aegean islands, which face Turkey.

    "I have proposed referral of the matter to the international court, not demilitarisation....Militarisation of the islands is necessary as long as the threat is extant....When the threat is removed, the minister may then think about what he will do. I do not wish to intervene further in his duties," Stephanopoulos said.

    He also clarified that he had not meant "grey areas" fabricated by Turkey should be taken to court by Greece. "I have in mind Turkey's ability to do this, unilaterally."

    In his original article, Stephanopoulos had said that use of International Court was the only way forward as other attempts to find a solution had failed, both in the process of Turkey's EU entry negotiations and bilateral moves under the Helsinki pact.

    Among issues that should go to The Hague were limits of Greek territorial waters; delineation of the Aegean continental shelf; demilitarisation of the islands; and entry by Turkish aircraft into the Athens Flight Information Region without flight plans, barring a ruling by the ICAO.

    In addition, recourse to the court should be preceded by an agreement between the two countries as Turkey was not part of the court's founding protocol.

    Furthermore, Greece's policy of recognising only one difference with Turkey - delineating the Aegean continental shelf - lacked seriousness. A failure to seek a solution through the International Court would leave outstanding issues untouched, perpetuating current problems and the threat of a heated incident.

    Finally, Stephanopoulos stated that use of the court fell under the Helsinki resolution, which set a deadline for talks until the end of 2004 to be followed by recourse to the court, a move that would guarantee the support of Greece's EU partners.

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