Former PASOK prime minister Kostas Simitis issued a statement on Thursday defending an earlier op-ed, following criticism from his conservative successor Kostas Karamanlis.
In the statement, Simitis stated that:
“In the Saturday edition of The Nea daily, there was a pre-publication of my contribution to the co-authored book “The strategy of Helsinki, 20+1 years later,” published by Sideris. This publication prompted a comment by Kostas Karamanlis.
The statement by Karamanlis truly proves our different viewpoints.
My belief was, and is, that our differences with Turkey must be confronted rigorously, utilizing the strong position granted to us by our European Union membership and the advantages we enjoy from our international alliances. The indefinite postponement of resolving the differences with our neighboring country, awaiting a future arrangement each time, led, and will lead, to greater Turkish demands. The most definite and painful proof of the cost of this inertia are the developments witnessed with the issue of Cyprus.
During the European Council summit in Helsinki, my government utilized the favorable circumstance of Turkey’s desire to align with the European Union. On the one hand, we solve the complicated issue of Cyprus’ induction into the European Union, and on the other, we forged a roadmap of resolving Greco-Turkish differences.
As to the issue of territorial waters it must be noted that all Greek governments (including that of Karamanlis) discussed the issue of the width of our territorial sea as part of exploratory talks, which is a matter of national sovereignty and closely interlinked with the question of the continental shelf and the Exclusive Economic Zone.”