© Copyright Embassy of Greece 1996-2005. All Rights Reserved.
25 February, 1997
Former US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke said last night that at the moment he did not have any plans to mediate in Greek-Turkish differences and stressed that tensions in the area were out of all proportions.
Mr. Holbrooke was here accompanying his wife, Kati Marton, in her capacity as president of the International Committee for the Protection of Journalists, to receive the Costas Kyriazis International Center award.
The award is accompanied by a one million drachmas prize. Another award went to "The Magazine", the supplement of the London-based "The European" newspaper, and special distinctions to the BBC World Service program broadcast out of Athens and other
individuals who helped in promoting national issues.
The event was attended by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Press Minister Dimitris Reppas.
"I don't have any plans right now. I have a book to finish and I have work to do," Mr. Holbrooke said.
He said he would have liked very much to help, but "right now I can't undertake any other commitments." He was referring to a book he was writing about his experiences as mediator in Bosnia, which led to the Dayton peace accords.
However, he hastened to add that "I'm very interested in the area."
Asked to make a prediction about possible escalation of tension in the area, Mr. Holbrooke said: "I think that tensions in the area are out of all proportion on the issues, which are real but do not justify such a high level of tension."
"This is excessive and the leaders of both sides (Greece and Turkey) have to talk directly to each other to get this cooled down."
Asked about the possibility of war in the area, Mr. Holbrooke said: "I don't think that war makes any sense at all. I know people like to talk about wars out here, but last year this time with Imia we had a little problem that could have led to a military confrontation. Still, it doesn't make any sense and I just met with the Turkish leaders in Washington last week at the American-Turkish Council and I told them there is no reason at all for people to have a high level of tension."
Mr. Holbrooke said he was "confident that Mr. Simitis and his government and the Turks will find ways to cool things off, and they really should, because there is no need for this."
Earlier, Ms. Marton said her group submitted a list of 78 journalists who are in Turkish jails for crimes none other than their writings on the Kurdish situation.
"We have made our positions very clear to the Turkish authorities and also to the (US) State Department..."
She said the group also had a commitment from the State Department that "there will be no opportunities missed in high-level exchanges between the US and Turkey where press violations will not be mentioned."
"We feel that we are making progress there," she said, adding: "It's an uphill road and there isn't the same tradition for a free and active press in Turkey as there is in Greece. We have to work very hard to establish this tradition."
Source: Athens News Agency