Former Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis issued a statement on Thursday responding to an op-ed by his predecessor Kostas Simitis, an ex-socialist former prime minister, in Ta Nea daily, accusing the conservative premier of abandoning the ‘Helsinki Strategy’ of diplomacy with Turkey.
“To call things by their proper name: the so called ‘successful’ Helsinki strategy would lead to a trial, handing over Greek territorial integrity, Greek sovereignty over islands and islets, to the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice in the Hague! From the Imia incident to Helsinki, the Simitis government was essentially asking the United States and our European partners to push Turkey into lodging a complaint with the Hague over Imia and the so-called ‘grey zones’,” wrote Karamanlis.
“It even went to lengths to assure that words to this effect would be included in official European documents. It is unprecedented for a state, a European one at that, to be asking the whole world for a third country to seek a legal ruling doubting its own territorial integrity! There was also a significant setback with the agreement struck in Madrid in June 1997 as the government recognised that Turkey has legal, vital interests in the Aegean. Interests that were of vital importance for its safety and national sovereignty, and that Greece could no longer unilaterally pursue any of its rights! Obviously, this includes the unilateral right to extend its territorial waters, as is the explicit right of every country according to international law,” he added.
“In 1999 with the ‘Helsinki’ strategy, the EU in the role of Pontius Pilate, would follow up Turkey’s claim lodged with the International Court of Justice of ‘outstanding border differences and other related issues’ even up until 2004, and not just about the differences in defining the continental shelf and Exclusive Economic Zones,” said Karamanlis, criticizing the alleged success of the ‘Helsinki Strategy’ and stressing that the latter difference is the only one recognized by all Greek government since 1974.
“I believed then, and believe now, that beyond the issue of the continental shelf and the Exclusive Economic Zone, nothing else put forward by Turkey could be negotiated or resolved in court. The precedent set by Helsinki was now a reality, but it had to be weakened,” he also said.
“It is true that I have different opinions to Simitis and to those who share his views. For us, things were crystal clear. We do not negotiate our national sovereignty and we do not seek anyone’s ruling on it,” he added.