Athens weighs EU-Turkey defense deal

Athens is examining a proposed deal between the European Union and Turkey which would end Ankara’s objections to the EU’s nascent defense force using NATO resources, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday. The EU would deal with the issue at the General Affairs Council meeting in Brussels on Monday, where Foreign Minister George Papandreou will represent Greece. If we all agree, decisions will be taken, Simitis said. Simitis refrained from expressing his opinion on the proposed deal but said Greece’s reaction would depend on the implications. This text is being studied by the Foreign Ministry, and we will determine our tactics in the next few days with regard to the conclusions that will be drawn, Simitis told journalists at a Foreign Press Association luncheon. Reports indicated that Turkey had agreed to the force’s using NATO resources when it was assured that it would not be used in Greek-Turkish differences and would be consulted on a case-by-case basis for operations in the broader region. New Democracy Shadow Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyianni charged that the Foreign Ministry had refused her request to see the document, adding that this arouses great concern and justifiable questions. Papandreou replied that I want to assure her that there is no final agreement. There is only an informal document which was given to EU member states on Sunday and which is being studied by the competent state officials and the ministries of foreign affairs and defense. US Secretary of State Colin Powell arrived in Ankara yesterday. Among the issues he will discuss are the EU defense force and Cyprus. Intracom stocks lost 3.61 percent on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday, bringing its total losses over the past two sessions to over 9 percent.

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