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11 December, 1997
Greece has lost nothing by NATO's new operational structure, on the contrary, it won its participation in developments in which it had no share since 1974, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said last night in Parliament replying to questions by opposition leaders.
Mr. Simitis underlined that until now Greece was a mere observer of NATO-sponsored military manoeuvres in international waters in the Aegean, which were held with Turkey and other countries' participation.
He stressed that the country's national sovereignty was not in any way limited by the establishment of the four NATO regional headquarters in southeast Europe, saying that the alliance's new structure was not a treaty/agreement that could be ratified by the Greek Parliament, but an internal, administrative arrangement.
The PM further said that if Greece wanted to secure international support, this could neither be achieved by a "nationalistic isolationism", or by staying away from developments. He stressed Greece must be present in developments and negotiate any difficulties and questions to arise.
The leader of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Aleka Papariga accused the premier of acquitting NATO for the role it will play in the Aegean and Cyprus, asking that the issue over the alliance's new structure should be examined in Parliament again.
Nikos Constantopoulos, the leader of the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos), underlined the need for guarantees to eliminate the eventuality of Turkish demands against Greece. Such guarantees, he said, should be based on the texts of NATO's new structure and on a provision to deal with one member-country attacking another.
Dimitris Tsovolas, the leader of the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) wondered whether Greece's right to extend its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles had been taken into account in NATO's new structure.
In a related development, National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos last night briefed Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee on the issue.
Source: Athens News Agency