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17 May, 1997
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday rejected a proposal by the Dutch EU presidency for a meeting of the Greek and Turkish "committees of experts", set up to examine procedural issues related to bilateral differences.
Mr. Pangalos said Dutch Foreign Minister Hans van Mierlo proposed that the two committees should meet at the end of the month.
Expressing the view that such a meeting would serve no useful purpose, Mr. Pangalos spoke in terms of a "mistake" on the part of Mr. van Mierlo.
The Greek minister confirmed that he had received a letter on Thursday from his Dutch counterpart proposing a meeting of the two committees between May 26 and 28.
"First of all, the process of exchanging views by correspondence must proceed," Mr. Pangalos said. He also stressed that in order for Greece to lift its veto of the EU financial protocol to Turkey within the framework of the EU-Turkey customs union, Ankara would first have to satisfy all three conditions set by Greece, irrespective of any process or initiative in progress. Athens has repeatedly stated that Ankara must reject the use and threat of force, respect international law and international treaties and have recourse to the International Court at The Hague for settlement of any claims it may have.
In the letter from the Dutch foreign minister, Mr. Pangalos said, the Dutch EU presidency accepted a Greek proposal that views should be exchanged between the committees of experts in the form of memorandums.
He added, however, that Greece did not accept the Dutch presidency's proposal for a direct meeting of the two committees until the two sides had exchanged memoranda.
Speaking to reporters after talks with his Slovenian counterpart, Zoran Thaler, Mr. Pangalos said: "If the aim of the (EU) presidency is to exert pressure for the commencement of direct talks, in order to secure the release of the EU-Turkey financial protocol, then it is a naive approach, because Greece has repeatedly stated that it will not consent to the release of these funds unless Turkey satisfies the three conditions set by Athens."
Mr. Pangalos assured, however, that the procedure regarding the committees would continue, adding that the letter of the Greek side would be sent to the Dutch presidency at the beginning of next week, although on the condition that the van Mierlo proposal for a meeting of the committees is withdrawn.
Source: Athens News Agency