Papandreou, Cem in NY

The foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey are expected to hold their first exploratory meeting this weekend on the fringes of the World Economic Forum in New York. This will concern the start of a dialogue on the problems caused by Turkey’s revisionist policy in the Aegean. Ministers George Papandreou and Ismail Cem will continue with these talks in Istanbul on February 12 and 13, when any agreement on the framework of the talks will be declared officially with the beginning of talks at the level of ministry officials. During the last week, in Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Papandreou repeated his commitment that the start of a dialogue will depend on Ankara’s acceptance that the talks will be held on the basis of principles of international law, international agreements and the EU’s acquis communautaire. Papandreou expressed reservations as to whether Cem would commit himself to this. Ankara has been making contradictory signals so far. Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit has spoken of a «political» dialogue and the search for solutions on the basis of proper adjudication in a brief period. Cem, on the other hand, has said that it is self-evident that Turkey abides by the UN’s charter and the EU’s Agenda 2000 principles. Papandreou repeated that the only issue in the Aegean that Athens recognizes is the delineation of the continental shelf. Ankara speaks of a broad range of issues. Bank of Greece governor Lucas Papademos said that by January 30, 73 percent of drachma coins and notes had been withdrawn from circulation – as opposed to the EU average of 68 percent of outgoing currencies – while euros account for 76 percent of all money in circulation.