New course on Turkey?

Athens is considering a change of direction in its diplomatic dealings with Turkey following a suggestion that the dispute with Ankara over air space could be resolved in the International Court of Justice at The Hague, senior government sources told Kathimerini yesterday. The proposal was made by former president Costis Stephanopoulos in an article for Sunday’s Kathimerini and the ruling conservatives did not rule out the possibility that the United Nations world court could hold the answer to a key stumbling block in relations between the neighboring states. The problem was highlighted by last week’s collision between Greek and Turkish jets over the Aegean. «The proposal has many interesting points,» said senior government sources. «It is time for us to realize that we should view the future with realism and that to progress we have to understand that the setting of boundaries for the continental shelf is not the only difference facing us.» This comment appears to show that the government is debating whether to ditch a policy which it stuck to under former foreign minister Petros Molyviatis, which relied heavily on pressure from the European Union to bring Turkey in line. When asked about Stephanopoulos’s suggestion, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis also indicated it was an idea worth mulling. «Mr Stephanopoulos’s article contains an argument with interesting points,» she told reporters. «From there on, because it is the main foreign policy issue and is especially complicated, do not ask me to give simple, black-and-white answers,» Bakoyannis added. The option of taking the dispute to the international court also seems to have the backing of PASOK. Sources within the Socialist party said that PASOK leader George Papandreou will now pressure New Democracy to make clear its policy with regard to Turkey. Meanwhile, a Turkish tourist was briefly detained on Crete yesterday after allegedly taking photographs of the military base at Souda Bay. Two other tourists were also released without charge.