OPINION

Few prospects for Athens-Ankara ties

Ankara does not appear inclined to change its aggressive stance as regards the matter of territorial waters in the Aegean. Turkey’s military and political leadership agree that this threat should be maintained, regardless of developments in Greek-Turkish relations and of Turkey’s ties with the EU which it hopes to join. And so, Turkey continues to «prohibit» Greece from extending its territorial waters in the Aegean to 12 miles, with total disregard for international law. On the issue of casus belli, Athens has restricted itself to routine declarations and to reminding Ankara that its stance is not bringing it any closer to the EU. According to government sources, this «moderate» stance taken by Athens will not be changed by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, except in an emergency. The same sources maintain that only the style of the ministry’s leadership will change. Greece’s political leadership reckons that, however irritating (and costly) Turkey’s intransigent stance in the Aegean may be, there is currently no policy area that is ripe for essential political dialogue with Turkey. So, the Aegean is expected to remain virtually off limits as a point of negotiations for the foreseeable future. On the issue of Cyprus, things are rather different. There is no head-on clash between Athens and Ankara and, in any case, it is Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos who plays the key role. But Turkey is not so happy to leave this area untackled. Turkish diplomats are particularly concerned with the opportunities EU member state Cyprus will acquire to link aspects of a Cyprus solution to the acquis communautaire.