NEWS

PM warns Turkey off

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday warned Ankara that its aggressive military activity in the Aegean could well affect Turkey’s prospects of eventually entering the European Union. «Turkey has undertaken a series of commitments [to the EU] and it has a long period ahead during which it will be monitored,» he told Parliament during a debate on foreign policy, adding that Turkey’s course toward EU entry «passes through Athens and Nicosia.» «[Ankara] is bound to develop good neighborly relations and adopt peaceful provisions in its foreign policy,» Karamanlis said. «But our neighborly relations have their ups and downs. While bilateral exploratory talks continue, they are affected by military actions which carry a multiple cost.» On Cyprus, the PM said Athens supports a new peace effort on the basis of the blueprint presented last year by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. «But there must be no arbitration or suffocatingly tight time schedules,» he added. Opposition leader George Papandreou accused the ruling conservatives of adopting too soft a stance on Turkey. «Since last December, tension has risen in the Aegean, and there was a crisis at Imia while [Foreign Minister Petros] Molyviatis was on an official visit to Turkey,» he said. Synsapismos Left Coalition leader Alekos Alavanos claimed that «we have fallen far behind on the matter of Greek-Turkish relations.» «The leaders of the two major parties go on about whose policies are better, when the Aegean has become the setting for daily simulated dogfights and Turkey questions… [the ownership] of Greek territory,» he added. Meanwhile, a Greek air force F-16 fighter pilot had to make a forced landing at an airbase on the northeastern Aegean island of Lemnos yesterday, after suffering engine failure during a mission to intercept Turkish fighters. An air force statement said the pilot managed to bring his aircraft down safely on the Lemnos runway, two and a half minutes after his engine cut out, probably due to a fuel feed problem, 10 miles off the island at an altitude of 12,000 feet. «He effectively flew the jet like a glider,» an air force source said. The plane had taken off from a base near Volos in central Greece to chase off a pair of Turkish military aircraft.