NEWS

Deals and differences

Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem’s visit to Athens resulted in the announcement of three confidence-building measures and the signing of some protocols of secondary importance. But it also clearly pointed out the very serious differences between the two countries in terms of solving the Cyprus problem and the island’s accession to the European Union. Cem and his Greek counterpart, George Papandreou, signed a protocol allowing for the readmission of illegal immigrants within 15 days of their being detained in Greece. They also signed protocols on the creation of a unit to deal with disasters, on cooperation between their diplomatic academies, on implementing an agreement on cultural issues and an agreement for an Olympic truce. The two ministers also announced agreement on three new CBMs, which involve an exchange of views between the Greek and Turkish chairmen of the chiefs of staff on international issues, exchanges of officers to monitor major military exercises and environmental cooperation in the Evros border region. Cem, who also met with Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday, refused to comment on threats by Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit to annex northern Cyprus if the island joins the European Union. Cem spoke of Ankara’s desire for a mutually acceptable solution which, in his opinion, would be achieved through a confederation. Papandreou, on the other hand, stressed that Greece supports a federal solution on the basis of UN Security Council resolutions. Cem said that Cyprus’s joining the EU before a solution is found could create difficulties for everyone, and that is why we urge all to find a mutually acceptable solution. He added, The better the possibilities for a mutually acceptable solution, the better the possibilities for bilateral ties. Cem’s statements on Cyprus were carefully worded as the issue is currently of great importance to Turkey, as can be seen from the fact that 126 Turkish deputies have called for a debate on the issue behind closed doors. Yesterday, Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said he had written to Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides and proposed a face-to-face meeting to seek an end to Cyprus’s division. I think a sincere dialogue with Clerides will be useful, he told reporters in Turkish-occupied Kyrenia. He said they should meet face-to-face in Cyprus, with no predetermined agenda and no preconditions, with the participation of no third party, the Agence France-Presse reported. Clerides met in New York with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday. On Turkish claims that Greece harbors terrorist camps, Cem said, We all take the political position, and have the humanitarian obligation to combat terrorism and the existence of training camps. He added that he meant camps in other countries. Papandreou stressed: We will not allow any illegal activity on Greek territory, we will not allow specific activities related in any way to terrorism on our territory. Meanwhile, at the inauguration of an exhibition of Cem’s photographs at the municipal gallery in Parko Eleftherias in central Athens, Cem’s and Papandreou’s bodyguards detained a Turkish political refugee who got close to the two officials and shouted Murderers, Murderers in a protest against Cem. The man was identified as Haluk Pirali, also known as Yildirim, who says he is a member of a leftist group and has spent time in Turkish prisons. He is president of the Society of Political Refugees in Greece. ‘Trojan Horse.’ A top-priority map exercise was held behind closed doors yesterday in Athens with the participation of the police, fire brigade, coast guard, search and rescue squad (EKAB) and the National Information Service. Code-named Trojan Horse, the exercise concerned security plans, the coordination and confrontation of serious incidents such as terrorist acts, particularly in view of the Olympic Games. It was the first exercise of its kind in the history of the Greek Police, according to a Public Order Ministry source.