OPINION

Helsinki obligations

Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Foreign Minister George Papandreou unwillingly revealed recently that the Helsinki agreement did not simply give Greece a clear victory on the Cyprus issue and Greek-Turkish relations – as, according to Athens’s interpretation, Ankara has to accept the jurisdiction of an international tribunal on all issues raised by Turkish policy on the Aegean Sea – but also obliged it to start a dialogue with Turkey. The dialogue, however, will take place in a rather unpleasant atmosphere caused by the recent activity of Turkey’s air force: Turkish fighter jets have been responsible for more than 1,000 violations of Athens’s flight information region (FIR) and Greece’s national air space over the previous year and have continued with the same intensity through January. This fact has caused concern to the country’s military and National Security Minister Yiannos Papantoniou in particular… The question raised – on top of the more essential issue of security – is to what extent will the impending Greek-Turkish dialogue highlight the tension between the views of Papandreou and Papantoniou, thus rendering the defense minister a rallying point for those who are skeptical of Simitis’s and Papandreou’s tendency to promote «radical» agreements on various foreign policy issues… «They tried to land three times and it was not possible because of the dense fog, so the pilot decided to go towards Thessaloniki,» said the European Union’s special envoy to FYROM, Frenchman Alain le Roy.