NEWS

Deal to be signed with Turkey

Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and her Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul are to sign an agreement in Istanbul on Saturday, establishing a telephone hotline between their countries’ air force headquarters as part of a trust-building initiative, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday. Bakoyannis is to sign the accord with Gul on the sidelines of a conference of Greek and Turkish journalists. The hotline agreement is «indicative of the spirit the talks will have,» ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos said. The two ministers are also to discuss Turkey’s bid to join the European Union and «soft» issues such as cooperation in the energy, tourism and economy sectors. Asked whether Bakoyannis planned to ask Gul for Turkey to revoke its declaration that Greece’s extension of its territorial waters would constitute a threat of war, Koumoutsakos said that the threat of violence as a policy was «an anachronism… which no Greek government has ever accepted.» Asked whether Greece would extend its territorial waters before taking its dispute with Turkey over the delineation of the continental shelf to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Koumoutsakos simply reiterated Greece’s right to extend its waters. «The delineation of the continental shelf depends upon the limits of territorial waters.» Koumoutsakos’s comments followed heated debate regarding a proposal by opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou that Greece extend its territorial waters before it decides to refer its dispute with Turkey over the continental shelf to The Hague. PASOK’s spokesman Nikos Athanassakis yesterday stressed that Papandreou’s proposal had been widely misinterpreted. «(It) says that before any appeal to The Hague we must have settled the issue of the extent of our waters,» he said. Meanwhile, Gul was yesterday quoted as saying of Greek-Turkish relations, «In the past we believed that by creating more problems we were strengthening our positions.»