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17 April, 1997
Important steps towards finding processes for resolving problems in Greek-Turkish relations were taken yesterday during back-to-back meetings between Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart Onur Oymen on t he sidelines of the Euro-Mediterranean Conference.
Mr. Papandreou said that the opportunity was given in the Maltese capital for the Dutch European Union presidency to mediate and have views exchanged between Greece and Turkey. "Positive steps were taken but we have no final outcome," he said.
Mr. Papandreou said that "we have always said that Greek-Turkish relations cannot improve unless problems of decisive importance are resolved, such as the Cyprus issue and the recent issue of Imia."
In late January 1996, Greece and Turkey came close to an armed conflict after Ankara disputed Athens' sovereignty over the uninhabited Aegean islet of Imia, near Kalymnos.
On the question of what form rapprochement between the two countries will take, Mr. Papandreou said Greece is in favor of Turkey's European orientation, but this prospect can only be linked to basic preconditions which Turkey must observe, such as its position on the Aegean and the major issue of Cyprus.
According to reports, Mr. Papandreou and Mr. Oymen held consecutive meetings and in most cases in the presence of EU representatives.
Mr. Papandreou also met the president of the European Parliament's Socialist Group, Pauline Green, who told him that she believes that the Europarliament's stance towards Turkey will contribute to the resolution of problems which have been created, placing particular emphasis on the issue of human rights in Turkey.
Source: Athens News Agency