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08 July, 1998
Athens yesterday described as "unacceptable" a latest Turkish demand calling for demilitarization of Greece's eastern Aegean islands, saying it "dynamites" bilateral relations.
The demand was contained in a demarche handed to Greece's ambassador in Ankara on Monday.
In Athens, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas dismissed the demand as "historically unacceptable and groundless", particularly in view of "the behavior of Turkey's leadership, which once again dynamites the relationship between the two countries".
By adopting this practice, Mr. Reppas said, Turkey is not contributing to peace and stability in the region and is compromising itself. Noting that Ankara had not honored past commitments, the government spokesman said Athens could not remain indifferent and had no choice but to organize its defense.
Replying to press questions, Mr. Reppas said he did not know if Turkey had communicated the demarche to international organizations.
In later statements, a Greek foreign ministry spokesman said the Turkish demand was "apparently made for domestic consumption."
The spokesman said Ankara had often sought to create and maintain a climate of tension.
This policy, he added, constitutes a violation of agreements and commitments which Turkey has recently undertaken, not only towards Greece but also towards either countries and international organizations. He referred to the Madrid communique of July 1997 and the agreement for implementation of confidence-building measures (CBMs) in the Aegean.
WASHINGTON (ANA - M. Savva)
On his part, National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday from the US that Ankara's idea to lodge a verbal protest with Athens over the presence of military forces on eastern Aegean islands by invoking the Lausanne Treaty "was unfortunate."
Speaking in Washington, where he is on an official visit, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said it was "original" that a country, which "officially ignores its commitments emanating from international law and international treaties, is attempting to exploit the increased defense capacity on the Greek islands to shun its own responsibilities, which created this capacity."
"Turkey itself has repeatedly made it clear that it is questioning the status quo in the Aegean. Therefore, when a country questions the national sovereignty of its neighbor, according to what logic will it demand the principles of the UN safeguarding the right to self defense not to have effect," he said.
"Such a move would be tenable in the event that Turkey had taken the political decision to stop doubting and threatening Greece, its sovereign rights and security and stability in the region. In any case, this would help Turkey a great deal and its prospects for the European Union, since partners have set conditions for an improvement in its relations with Europe," he added.
Source: Athens News Agency