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21 June, 1997
The government yesterday described as "quite significant" a statement by a US Pentagon spokesman that Washington considered the Imia islets as being within Greece's sovereignty.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas noted, however, that since 1996, when Turkey first began disputing the sovereignty of the islets, the US had issued maps designating Imia also by its Turkish name, Kardak - although at one time Ankara had also proposed the name Ikince.
Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon on Thursday verified the existence of an official nautical map issued by a US federal cartographic service showing the Imia islets as Greek territory.
"It's a fact that there was a new map issued at the end of 1996 clearly showing the island within Greece's sovereignty, as it always was. It's a nautical map for mariners and it's available to the public," he said, stressing that anyone can check and verify that the islet is depicted as under Greek sovereignty.
A few hours later, however, Mr. Bacon seemed to retract his statements, reverting to a stance according to which the sovereignty of the Imia islets is supposedly "in dispute".
"During yesterday's briefing I mistakenly said that the Aegean islet of Imia is under Greek sovereignty," Mr. Bacon said in a written statement.
"In reality, the sovereignty of the island is under dispute between Greece and Turkey. It is a standing position of the United States to take no position on conflicting claims of sovereignty or border disputes between other countries" Mr. Bacon added.
"If a problem was created," Mr. Reppas said, "it was certainly not created for the Greek government." He added that Athens had already proposed the utilization of international procedures (i.e. International Court at The Hague), through which "anyone can put forward their arguments about whether Imia is Greek or not".
"But they will not achieve anything," the spokesman added.
Washington's position, he continued, appears to be that when there is a dispute, the US government does not wish to make its position known, even if it has a position. Mr. Reppas said that while Greece did not expect third parties to solve its problems, it did expect from the US, other governments and international organizations assistance and support in making use of international procedures.
"To a great extent Greece does have this support, since many governments are pointing to the use of the International Court at The Hague," Mr. Reppas added.
Source: Athens News Agency