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17 December, 1999
Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said it would be simplistic to assume that last week's decision by the EU to accept Turkey as a candidate state would lead to a cut back in Greece's armaments program.
"Such an approach would be naive," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos told reporters. "A long time will be needed before we can say that, post-Helsinki, a new framework has been shaped which will lead to real Greek-Turkish rapprochement."
He said there were no plans to amend the Greek armed forces' five-year multi-million-dollar armaments program, designed to significantly upgrade the country's defense capability.
Finally, Athens and Ankara are expected to sign bilateral agreements by mid-January on what has been termed "low-level policy issues", diplomatic sources said yesterday in Athens.
According to the same sources, Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem will sign the agreements, during visits they will conduct in each other's capitals.
Sources noted that eight such agreements are already drafted and await signatures, while an agreement drafted to avoid double taxation on income earned by companies and individuals operating in both countries is still not finalized.
Prepared draft agreements include cooperation on tourism, trade, science-technology, the environment, security, investment protection, energy and the merchant marine sectors, according to reports.
Source: Athens News Agency