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12 March, 1999
Main opposition New Democracy leader Kostas Karamanlis was received here yesterday by US Vice President Al Gore, with issues touching on terrorism, Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus problem.
At the end of the 30-minute talks, Mr. Karamanlis said he had an extremely interesting meeting and discussion, in which he set out Greek positions on Greek-Turkish relations and the question of Cyprus.
"Our common pursuit is stability in the region and I explained our steadfast position that Greece desires peace in the region, as well as that the future of Greek-Turkish relations can only move on international law and existing conditions of good neighborliness and cooperation," he said.
Mr. Karamanlis denounced Turkey's tactic of threats of the use of force, saying it is a tactic which neither suits modern states nor its European orientation.
He said he was pleased that Mr. Gore listened closely to an initiative over the Cyprus issue for a viable and workable solution to be found.
Mr. Karamanlis said they discussed the issue of terrorism at length, adding that he reiterated to Mr. Gore that Greece condemns terrorism and that Greece in particular has been hit by it. He went on to say that for ND, as well as a future government, combating terrorism is a priority.
The two men also exchanged views on the issue of education, while Mr. Karamanlis said it is the first investment, which must be done to safeguard the future of youth.
Mr. Karamanlis gave a press conference and was due to leave for New York last night where he will meet with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan today.
Speaking to the press afterwards, Mr. Karamanlis said Greece desired the normalization of relations between Greece and Turkey, adding that he believes in Turkey's European role and prospects - a country, he said, which must be democratic and must respect human rights.
Mr. Karamanlis said Turkey should abandon what he called its "favorite tactic of threats, accept respect for international law as a basis for understanding and normalization and abandon territorial claims."
"I made it clear to my interlocutors that Greece is a country which respects and supports the international status quo, while Turkey is following a position with which it is pursuing its overthrow," he said.
Referring to Cyprus, Mr. Karamanlis said all US officials conceded that this protracted problem and its stagnation could not continue because of Turkish intransigence. He added that it was time for a new initiative and that he had the impression a similar climate also prevails in the US administration.
"I ascertained in my meetings that there is convergence (of views) on quite a few issues but, of course, there is no identity in relation to our region. I also stressed the need for the US to intervene to have the Turks abandon their aggressive attitude," he said.
Commenting on the case of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, Mr. Karamanlis said Athens never harbored, nor supported nor helped acts related to force and terrorism.
"We believe that there can only be a solution to the Kurdish issue with political means," he said.
Replying to a question on whether pressure was exerted for the denunciation of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Mr. Karamanlis said he never felt at any moment that someone was pressuring him.
Source: Athens News Agency