Suspicious secrecy

Secrecy persists over the negotiations on the delimitation of the continental shelf (and a whole set of border disputes) between Greece and Turkey. Despite 24 rounds of so-called exploratory talks, the politicians and the public are still in the dark over what is being discussed. This «secret diplomacy» has naturally resulted in endless rumors about the depth of exploratory talks that were held during Simitis’s tenure – talks which to a large degree are binding on the current premier as well. It is time this game of hide-and-seek concerning changes to Greece’s sovereign rights came to an end. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan publicly welcomed the «positive developments» arising from the contact talks. A bewildered Greek government assured the nation that there was nothing to justify Erdogan’s remarks. Meanwhile, General Ilker Basbug, second-in-command of the Turkish military, said that Turkey «will make no concessions on its legitimate and vital interests in the Aegean.» These interests, Basbug added, concern «the use of international air space and international waters, Turkey’s security needs, transport and energy resources.» The general also stressed that resolution of these issues is not a precondition for granting Ankara EU membership talks, but that they must be resolved before a decision on the final stage of accession talks. Athens’s response is uncomfortably laconic. It is tackling the issue with «modesty and humility,» as a pro-government newspaper said with restrained irony. Behind the scenes, some people claim that the Greek leadership would rather not reach a settlement on the Aegean before December. But it is far from certain how Karamanlis would handle the situation should Turkey win an EU accession talks date. On with the hide-and-seek then. Clearly, there must be something nasty to hide.