© Copyright Embassy of Greece 1996-2005. All Rights Reserved.
30 October, 1997
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday described the action by Turkish General Staff Chief Gen. Ismail Hakki Karadayi in sending a letter to all his NATO counterparts except to the Greek chief of staff as "a futile and hopeless attempt by Turkey to divert the interest of international public opinion."
The spokesman also noted the "peculiarity" of Gen. Karadayi's action, namely, that a military official should raise a purely political issue.
The Turkish armed forces chief claimed in the letter that Greece and Russia had formed an "axis" which threatens the alliance's southeastern wing.
National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Tuesday had dismissed the letter as "revealing the guilt felt by Turkey for the tension and crisis it has caused in the region."
According to Mr. Reppas, Gen. Karadayi's letter illustrates the important role played by the military in Turkey, "something unknown in the institutional structure of European countries."
Mr. Reppas underlined that the Turkish military chief is also discovering issues and conjuring up problems, maybe as a result of what he called "Turkey's disappointment at the course of issues dealing with it."
The letter itself, the spokesman added, is full of claims which can easily be refuted.
Echoing earlier statements by National Defense General Staff Chief Gen. Athanasios Tzoganis, Mr. Reppas said Greece was not the only country to have military cooperation with Russia, while observing that Moscow also had a special relationship with the European Union and NATO.
Replying to reporters' questions, Mr. Reppas said the United States had expressed no "annoyance" whatsoever about Greece's relations with Russia.
Additionally, he was reserved when asked about the possibility of an improvement in Greek-Turkish relations emerging from the meeting next week between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his Turkish counterpart, Mesut Yilmaz, on the sidelines of a Balkan leaders' summit on Crete.
Mr. Reppas said that there may be a "development" at the last minute if Turkey were to undertake some initiatives to conform with international law, while adding that he did not consider this to be very likely.
According to the Balkan summit agenda, Mr. Simitis is expected to have 20 minutes of talks with Mr. Yilmaz on Monday evening before an official dinner.
Mr. Reppas reiterated the government's view that the summit should not be dominated by Greek-Turkish issues but rather provide the opportunity for a top-level discussion of matters related to economic and political cooperation among the Balkan states.
"Greece would like the summit to become a permanent event for there to be regular meetings between the leaders of the Balkan countries and for a secretariat to be set up to facilitate the task of the leaders," Mr. Reppas told reporters.
Commenting on reports that Turkey is reinforcing its occupation forces in the northern part of Cyprus with heavy tanks, Mr. Reppas said this confuted the claims of Ankara and Gen. Karadayi, "and proves that Turkey does not want a solution to the Cyprus problem but desires the maintenance of tension".
Meanwhile, Gen. Tzoganis said yesterday that it was a breach of military protocol for his Turkish counterpart to send a letter to top level NATO officials without sending a copy to Greece's chief of staff.
Gen. Tzoganis said he had been told by the chairman of NATO's military committee that the letter had indeed been sent, but not about its content.
Gen. Tzoganis pointed out that many countries had signed agreements with Russia, including NATO, "and if Mr. Karadayi wants to exploit this fact, all the countries have the intelligence to judge this."
He expressed the view that his Turkish counterpart was perhaps attempting to justify the tension which Ankara itself had created in the region "or even future tension which it will create and for which Turkey will be solely responsible". He added that Greece's armed forces were "taking measures" daily and were completely ready to confront any provocation.
He did not rule out the possibility of a serious incident between Greece and Turkey, triggered by either a chance or a "planned" event.
Source: Athens News Agency