American Hellenic Institute


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AHI Statement on Agreements Between Greece and Turkey
January 28, 2000 No. 04/2000 (202) 785-8430

AHI Statement on Agreements Between Greece and Turkey

On January 20, 2000 five agreements between Greece and Turkey were signed during the course of Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou's visit to Turkey. The agreements cover investment, cooperation against organized crime, illegal immigration, tourism and the environment in the Aegean. Further agreements are likely to be signed when Turkish Foreign Minister Ismael Cem visits Athens in February.

The American Hellenic Institute has consistently argued that a normalization of relations between Greece and Turkey should take place on the basis of international law and reversal of aggression. Stable relations between Greece and Turkey will foster the strong U.S. interests in regional peace and prosperity. As such, AHI welcomes the current agreements and looks forward to further progress.

At the same time AHI notes that the fundamental causes of the problems between Greece and Turkey remain unchanged. These are:

  1. Turkey's unilateral claims against sovereign Greek territory in the Aegean in violation of international law;
  2. Turkey's refusal to refer its unilateral claims to binding international arbitration as accepted by Greece;
  3. Turkey's continued aggression against Cyprus, including its illegal occupation of 37.3% of Cyprus; and
  4. Turkey's continued violations of Greece's air space.

At its meeting in Helsinki on December 10-11, 1999 the European Union agreed to accept Turkey as a candidate for accession under the pre-condition that Turkey resolved these problems before accession talks begin. AHI congratulates Greece for its positive role in this decision.

The spotlight now falls on Turkey. Turkey accepted the EU's pre-condition. The time has now come for Turkey to fulfill its undertakings. It should do this:

  1. by withdrawing its unilateral claims against sovereign Greek territory; and
  2. ceasing its aggression against Cyprus by immediately withdrawing its forces from the island. A good test of Turkey's good faith will be the next round of proximity talks on Cyprus which resume in Geneva on January 31, 2000.

A major cause of Turkey's failure to honor its undertakings and of its continued violations of international law has been the policy of the United States which has turned a blind eye to Turkey's multiple failures to accept mandatory UN Security Council resolutions on Cyprus and failed to state that Turkey's claims against Greece in the Aegean have no validity in law.

AHI calls on the Administration to abandon this failed policy which damages U.S. regional interests. In its place the Administration should follow a policy based on the rule of law and fundamental American values, most especially resistance to aggression. The Administration should immediately make clear to Turkey that it will not tolerate further obstructionism on Cyprus. The Administration should publicly state that the maritime border between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean is clear and that if Turkey has any claims in this area it must take them to the International Court of Justice at The Hague for binding arbitration.