18 April, 2005
Greece's positions are "well-known and firm", and founded on international law and international treaties, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said Sunday, replying to a press question over statements by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in an interview appearing in Sunday's edition of the Greek newspaper Kathimerini.
"The Turkish prime minister's statements, as they are attributed in the article, constitute a repetition of the well-known Turkish views. On those views, also well-known and firm are Greece's positions, positions which are founded on International Law and the International Treaties," Koumoutsakos said.
"Indeed, the respect of good neighborhood relations, which are dictated by the European Union in the conclusions of last December's European Council (summit), demands attitudes that are in accordance with international law, the international rules and treaties," the spokesman said.
Greece, he added, "believes in the need for continuous improvement in Greek-Turkish relations, and also that Turkey's European orientation will contribute to that".
Erdogan spoke on Greek-Turkish relations and the Aegean in an interview with Kathimerini daily appearing in Sunday's edition of the newspaper, but taken before the recent incident at Imia islets.
Erdogan maintained that Turkey "has the right and liberty to execute flights above the Aegean, not recognizing the Greek national airspace of 10 (nautical) miles, and considering the space between six and ten (nautical) miles as international airspace". Consequently, he added, one should not expect of Turkey "to relinquish its right".
The Turkish premier claimed that Greece, not Turkey, was responsible for the tension in the Aegean, blaming the tension on what he called a "systematic abuse" of the responsibility over the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) and Greece's 10-nautical-mile national airspace.
Turning to Greek-Turkish relations, Erdogan considered that "they are on a satisfactory orbit since 1999", but also spoke of "unresolved problems" between the two countries, which he claimed were "bilateral differences", adding that his country desired a "just and lasting solution to all the problems, with respect to the mutual interests of the two countries".
Source: Athens News