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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-06-07

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Main opposition leader meets PM, discusses foreign policy
  • [02] Papandreou proposes shift of strategy toward Turkey

  • [01] Main opposition leader meets PM, discusses foreign policy

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday morning met the leader of the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) George Papandreou for talks that focused on foreign affairs. The meeting had been requested by Papandreou, who called for a new strategy in foreign policy, especially toward Turkey.

    No statements were made afterward.

    Commenting on the results of the meeting, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressed that the government steadfastly sought the maximum achievable consensus on issues of foreign policy.

    "The prime minister heard the leader of the main opposition attentively. Many of the positions heard during the meeting are already known. There is always a series of questions that must be answered," the spokesman said.

    He did not clarify whether these "questions" were related to Wednesday's meeting between Papandreou and Karamanlis or general questions concerning foreign affairs.

    "The core of Greece's strategy in recent years has been to encourage Turkey's European adaptation in its path toward EU accession while at the same time, on a bilateral level, continuing the building of trust, economic cooperation in various sectors and the process of exploratory contacts," Antonaros said.

    He also stressed that Greece was steadily persevering in efforts to create the conditions that would allow the referral of differences with Turkey to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, while at another point he noted that referral to court at The Hague was a "tool of Greek foreign policy". He underlined that the sole issue that government intends to refer to the court was that of delineating the Aegean continental shelf.

    [02] Papandreou proposes shift of strategy toward Turkey

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, formerly a foreign minister under the previous PASOK government, on Wednesday emphasised that Athens must first exercise its right to extend territorial waters within the framework of international law before signing any mutual promise to abide by the decision of an arbiter with neighboring Turkey - a step considered necessary before the referral of bilateral differences to the International Court at The Hague.

    In outlining an explicit step-by-step proposal for the often complex sphere of Greek-Turkish relations only hours after meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, Papandreou said a target-based political dialogue should subsequently commence with Ankara in order to only refer the issue of delineating the Aegean Sea's continental shelf to the International Court at The Hague.

    Papandreou, speaking to his party's Parliament group, said the signing of a peace and security pact with Turkey, a fellow NATO member-state, would follow in tandem with a mutual decrease in defence spending by the two sides.

    Whereas potential political fallout from a midair collision late last month in the SE Aegean between Greek and Turkish fighter planes was quickly and effectively defused by both governments, the incident nevertheless sparked a broad and uncharacteristically temperate debate by the country's political forces on the current and future course of Greek-Turkish relations, as well as on Athens' long-term strategy vis-à-vis its neighbor and EU hopeful Turkey.

    A standing 'thorn' in continuing rapprochement between Athens and Ankara is a resolution by Turkey's assembly in the late 1990s to threaten the use of force (casus belli) in case Greece legally extended its territorial waters from the current six nautical miles. Greece has repeatedly called on subsequent Turkish governments to disavow any such threat as absolutely incompatible with good-neighbourly relations.


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