Central Europe Review Call forpolicy proposals...
Vol 3, No 20
4 June 2001
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News from Greece
All the important
news since 26 May 2001

Konstantinos Louridas


Turkish provocation in the Aegean

The Turkish ship Piri Reis has, once more, trespassed into Greek territorial waters. Although this is a common phenomenon, what was special in this specific incident, is the Turkish intention to question Greece's sovereignty on its continental shelf. The Greek Navy was notified of the route of the ship by a notam broadcast from a navy station on the Turkish coastline.

However, the response from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs was that they were not informed about the route of the ship as it belongs to the University of Smyrna. According to sources from the University, the ship was conducting research regarding earthquakes in the region with the collaboration of some Canadian universities, and did not intend to trespass on Greek territorial waters or to dispute Greek sovereignty on its continental shelf.

Yet, this incident brings back the memory of a handful of similar actions held by the Turkish government such as with the ships Chantali, Hora (later renamed Sismik) and Tsimpouklou. The Turkish tactic of disputing the limits of the Greek continental shelf started during the dictatorial government of the infamous Junta in 1973 and it had reached at its peak in 1987, with Papandreou's aphorism to the Greek Navy that the Turkish ship Hora should be sunk unless it left Greek waters.

Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Ismail Chem informed his Greek counterpart George Papandreou that the Piri Reis would not proceed to conclude its research. According to Papandreou that is a good sign and it demonstrates that there is a will from both states to prevent crises immediately at their birth. Yet, a number of Papandreou's advisors had argued that this incident shows the intention of Turkey to challenge Greek legitimacy on Rhodes Island, to completely isolate the issue of the Greek continental shelf from the Cypriot one, and in general to create an agenda of issues regarding the conclusions of the Helsinki Agreement.

Mr Beglitis, a spokesman of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, finally, stated that the Greek side is satisfied with the explanations given by the Turkish government. Yet, this does not mean that Greece would remain inactive against such incidents. "We would watch the reactions of the Turkish side and then we would judge. But the scientific researches conducted by any state are not in breach of the Madrid Agreement of 1997, or the one in 1987, as long as our sovereignty is not under question."


Albanian threats to Greece

The spokesman of the Albanian rebels in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Izdet Mehmeti, threatened Greece by arguing that pretty soon, the Liberation Army of Tsamouria (the Greek region of Thesprotia) would be active in the defense of the rights of the one million ethnic Albanians (Tsamides) that live in the region.

Yet, the funny thing, if it could be characterized as such, is that the population of Thesprotia is only 45,000 people. The last Tsamides that lived in this region were sent back to Albania, in the aftermath of the Second World War due to their collaboration with the Italians and the Germans. Sali Berisha's Albanian government had demanded the return of the Tsamides back to Thesprotia, in the early 1990s—something impossible and unjustifiable.

Panagiotis Beglitis, a spokesman for the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, urged the international community to react and he continued that the imagination of a small minority of terrorists, that attempt to posses non-existed issues in the agenda, is without limits.


The first KEP defection

The Major of Ksilokastro Dimitris Skouras, is the first defector of the Movement of Free Citizens (KEP), the new political party created by the current major of Athens, Dimitris Avramopoulos. According to Skouras himself, Avramopoulos may be a good friend of his, but his heart belongs to Nea Dimokratia, the Greek Conservative Party. This is considered by many as a personal success of the Nea Dimocratia. For many, Dimitris Skouras had to face the dilemma of being a member of the new political party or being re-elected with Nea Dimokratia.

Members of Nea Dimokratia had argued that Avramopoulos' party would lose its force as time before the local elections passes. Yet, the official statement issued by KEP, is that Skouras was never a member of KEP. In order to withdraw from a political party, you have to be a member of it first.


Revelations regarding terrorism in Greece

New revelations made by the former minister of Public Order (Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement, PASOK), Sifis Valirakis, and Member of Parliament Mrs Liana Kaneli (Greek Communist Party) perplexed the situation at the meeting of the committee of the Greek parliament responsible for subjects such as terrorism. The revelations implied that politicians and members of the Pan-Hellenic Fighting Movement (PAK, the progenitor of PASOK) have connections with terrorist groups, such as November 17 (there are some official documents issued by the US embassy in Greece that supported the latter argument, according to Mrs Kaneli).

Up to now, members of the party in government, like Sifis Valirakis, Haris Kastanidis, Evangelos Giannopoulos, Bennos, Gouskos and Ioanidis have argued that they would cast away their votes from the new law on terrorism. In contrast Nea Dimokratia, according to its member Prolopis Pavlopoulos, would vote in favor of this law as it is a sign of the detest that politicians feel for terrorism.

Konstantinos Louridas, 1 June 2001

Moving on:


To Vima



Heather Field
Balkan Justice

Goran Cetinić
Yugoslavia's Battered Economy

Sam Vaknin
The Motherly West

Borce Gjorgjievski
Macedonia's Woes

Tim Haughton
Slovak Politics

Jan Čulík
Free Speech,
Czech Style

Jiří Cieslar
Daleká cesta

Elke de Wit
Vergiss Amerika

The Arts:
Isobel Hunter
Shostakovich Lite

Štěpán Kotrba
Sow and Reap

Brian J Požun
Shedding the Balkan Skin

Martin D Brown
Czech Historical Amnesia

Dejan Anastasijević (ed)
Out of Time

Gusztáv Kosztolányi
Hungarian Oil Scandal

Sam Vaknin
After the Rain

Czech Republic

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