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23 July, 1998
President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos warned yesterday that Greece cannot remain impassive forever in the face of Turkish provocations.
Addressing 40 expatriate deputies composing the World Hellenic Interparliamentary Union at the Presidential Mansion, Mr. Stephanopoulos called on the expatriate deputies to promote principles of respect for international law and UN resolutions in their respective Parliaments.
"Countries, no matter how much they desire peace also have national dignity, national pride, and they have national prestige, which cannot be offended by someone else with threats of war. Therefore, these threats might reach realization at some moment despite Greece's contrary desire - If it is supposed that the Turks strike Cyprus, what do you imagine that Greece can do? Is it possible for it to tolerate such a behavior without protest as we did in 1974, due to the situation prevailing then and our weakness at the time?" he asked.
Mr. Stephanopoulos called on the deputies to become apostles of peace and preachers for the implementation of principles of the UN "whether this concerns Greece or concerns whatever other country in the world. We do not request the implementation of these principles for the sake of Greece but for the sake of world peace."
The deputies held a similar meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis at 1 p.m.
"We must provide information. We expect from you, in the framework of stable cooperation between us, to rally to enable us to achieve the target which is information and the acceptance of policies securing peace," Mr. Simitis said.
Outlining the main elements of Greek foreign policy, Mr. Simitis said it focuses on "peace, friendship and cooperation among peoples."
Mr. Simitis said that decisions taken at the Luxembourg and Cardiff summits moved in these directions.
"However, the issues are also open many times because each country has its interests. One country sells weapons, the other country is carrying out major projects. They want the development of trade and they cannot see that such a development, no matter how necessary it is, contains a basic precondition: The existence and maintenance of peaceful relations. Pressure is also required in this direction in that human rights and international law constitute a foremost precondition for better economic relations and development efforts," he added.
On his part, the president of the World Hellenic Interparliamentary Union, Demetri Dollis, stated that "we are experiencing an era now which provides us with the possibility to say with pride that Greece has some role to play. And this role is basic. It is not a role limited solely to the Balkans, but it is global."
Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who accompanied the expatriate deputies on their visit, said afterwards that convening politicians of Greek descent from all over the world is a "historic effort which is bearing fruit."
"Greece is showing its great strength through Hellenism, its principles which are global and rally more extensively peoples and civilizations all over the world," he said.
On his part, Mr. Dollis said that "steps taken in past days with the great assistance of George Papandreou, who uses a language which is understood at international level, provides us with the possibility to promote, through our cultural identity, many foreign policy issues, but to promote in particular a new modern Greece which not only represents the Greek from Greece, but of course the Diaspora Greek as well."
The group was later received by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos.
Source: Athens News Agency