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Cyprus Mail: Press Review in English, 99-05-19

Cyprus Mail: Press Review in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>


Wednesday, May 19, 1999

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/Turkey ‘raising Aegean tension ’/ MOST papers focused on the "hard line" stance adopted by Turkey in its diplomatic dealings with Greece and Cyprus. Apart from the gloomy forecasts about any Cyprus initiative, Turkey was raising the tension in the Aegean by challenging Greek sovereignty rights.

Phileleftheros reported that Ankara and Rauf Denktash had hardened their stance on the Cyprus talks, in preparation for any new initiatives. Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem rejected the option of the involvement of G8 (the seven richest countries plus Russia) in the peace process, saying it would cause many difficulties. The only option was acceptance of Denktash’s proposal for confederation, he said. Denktash, on his departure to Istanbul, said that acceptance by the Greek Cypriots of the existence of his ‘state’ would help efforts for a settlement. Turkey, exploiting its ties with the US which had been strengthened by the Kosovo crisis, was "trying to secure advantages and benefits" in view of the new initiatives.

Alithia does not take such a gloomy view. It leads with excerpts from an interview given by President Clerides to an Athens newspaper, in which he said that an initiative was expected in November. The international community had been studying alternative scenarios and options with regard to the substance of a settlement, Clerides said. Despite the war in Yugoslavia, the international community, either through the UN Security Council or through G8, continued to show an interest in securing a resumption of the peace talks, he said.

Politis reported that Turkey, "through continuous provocations, is attempting to raise the tension in the Aegean in order to gauge Greece’s reflexes and readiness." Sticking to its positions about "grey areas" in the Aegean and the "unclear sovereignty" of certain rocks and islands, Ankara was attempting to raise tension and keep a question mark over Greek sovereignty rights. The attempt by some 20 Turkish journalists to go to the island of Imia - over which Greece and Turkey almost went to war three years ago - was part of this campaign, the paper claimed. Two of the reporters ended up in the sea and both Ankara and Athens laughed off the incident.

Machi also saw the Turkish ‘expedition’ as a threat to Greek sovereignty. It claimed that some 10 Turks had tried to climb on to the rock islet of Imia in order to create a heated incident. A boat from the Greek coastguard, which had increased its patrols in the Aegean, monitored the movements of the two Turkish boats carrying the journalists.

Simerini predicted that Greece would be in a very difficult position if Nato decided to use ground troops against Yugoslavia. In such an event, Nato would demand to use Greek airports, ports and roads for moving its troops and weapons. Such a development would mean a direct involvement in the war for Greece. This was why Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his Defence Minister were at pains to explain Greece’s opposition to Nato operations on the ground. Athens was also concerned that a land war could spread to the rest of the Balkan region, particularly to Albania, Skopje and Bulgaria where the Nato troops would be based.

Haravghi said that the government was about to impose new taxes and stressed that the communist party Akel was opposed to such a move.

© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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