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Report Outlining the Suggested Confidence Building Measures and Crisis Avoidance Measures Proposed by the CBMs Working Group

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Report Outlining the Suggested Confidence Building Measures and Crisis Avoidance Measures Proposed by the CBMs Working Group

Introductory Remarks

  1. This report is presented to the Plenary of the Greek-Turkish forum with a recommendation by the CBMs working group for its final endorsement. It consists of an outline of measures which aim at the improvement of confidence between Greece and Turkey, (Confidence Building Measures proper), as well as measures aiming at preventing the development of crises (Crisis Avoidance Measures, CAMs)

  2. In drafting this report, the members of the CBMs group were guided by the objectives the Greek-Turkish Forum has set to itself and its dedication to the proposition that problems dividing Greece and Turkey must be resolved peacefully. Suggestions contained herein reflect a commonly shared view that notwithstanding differences on certain major issues, there is enough room for initiatives capable of dislodging erroneous perceptions of either side on the other, in establishing a common basis of mutual understanding and in seeking to improve the political climate between the two countries. Further, it should be stated that the value of genuine feelings and acts of solidarity and their acknowledgement, as manifested reciprocally in the two countries in times of distress, cannot be sufficiently underlined.

  3. Efforts mounted by all the participants to the Forum can be classified as ‘Track II diplomacy’. In this respect it is stated that all the participants to this effort participate in a private capacity, as they do not represent governments or any other authority of their respective countries.

  4. All participants of the Forum welcomed the recently initiated and on going talks between Turkey and Greece at high officials’ level on a list of specific topics. These talks are considered as a most positive development and a CBM in itself. It is thought that while they cannot be immune from the effects of a serious deterioration which might occur in the relations between the two countries, their continuation can have a moderating effect on potential sources of crisis.

  5. The lead taken by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Greece and Turkey to resume a dialogue on subjects such as culture, tourism, environment, economic cooperation, the fight against crime, drug trafficking and terrorism - on some of which members of the group have devoted much of their efforts in the past - gives to the Forum new opportunities to contribute to this last initiative. Consequently, ten proposals for measures reflecting the spirit of dialogue and aiming at building mutual confidence were addressed to the two Foreign Ministers on behalf of the participants of the Forum by the Directors of RUSI and PRIO. They formed a list of practical actions to be taken as early as possible, and a summary of measures which are now contained in Parts I, II and III of the present report.

PART I

Background

The proposals here listed are designed to foster better relations by engaging the people and non-governmental organisations of the two countries. They do not necessarily require governmental involvement, although government support can be beneficial to their success.

Confidence Building Measures

  1. It is recommended that a detailed inventory be made available of all groups and non-governmental organisations working on improving Greek-Turkish relations and that the resulting list and their activities be made generally known to the public of the two countries.

  2. It is proposed that a working group be established to examine ways and to generate proposals by which extensive educational exchanges between Greek and Turkish students can be created – or where they already exist to be better co-ordinated and further strengthened – at both the secondary and tertiary level.

  3. Judging from recent positive experience, to encourage and promote publication of articles, commentaries, etc. in the press of either country, or stage joint television interviews and debates of well informed personalities, journalists, businessmen, specialists on a given topic etc. from the two countries.

  4. It is suggested that statesmen, members of government or of parliament from Greece and Turkey be invited by universities or other appropriate institutions, on a frequent basis, to participate at conferences or lectures on subjects not necessarily on bilateral relations.

  5. It is proposed that Greek and Turkish sporting authorities co-ordinate their efforts to host, when suitable, major sporting events. It is also suggested that once a bid has been made by Greece or Turkey to host a major sporting event, the relevant sporting authorities of either country should support the other country’s bid. With this in mind it is also suggested that the Greek IOC should support Turkey in a future bid to host the Olympic Games.

  6. Drawing from past experience and positive results on the implementation of projects of restoration of religious and cultural monuments, to promote and encourage relevant activities, on the basis of reciprocity.

  7. To reactivate business contacts and economic and trade co-operation.

  8. Non-governmental organisations working in the field of humanitarian and/or disaster relief to be assisted in their tasks and encouraged in developing close contacts with partners in the other country.

  9. Regarding prevention of pollution in the Aegean coastal areas, it is suggested that bodies involved in environmental protection and relief be assisted in their tasks and encouraged in developing close contacts with partners in the other country.

PART II (Proposals requiring Government action)

Background

Lack of exchange of information, neglect of maintaining contact and inefficient channels of communication between government officials at all levels can cause or aggravate crises, which otherwise could have been avoided.

Confidence Building & Crisis Avoidance Measures

  1. It is suggested that direct channels of communication be established between the Prime Ministers of Greece and Turkey, while those already existing between Foreign Ministers and Ministers of Defence of the two countries be maintained and further improved. It is hoped that such channels of communication shall be established between other ministers and high officials, serving the promotion of co-operation in commonly agreed areas.

  2. Greek-Turkish relations are often adversely affected when the media seek comments from government officials on statements actually or allegedly made in the other country, before there was a chance of previous sufficient clarification. It is recommended therefore that appropriate government authorities in Greece and Turkey provide to each other and as soon as possible full copies of official documents and statements or speeches made, and that a verification process (‘cooling off period’) is set before final statements are made to the media.

  3. Opportunities for co-operation in the frame of regional organisations:
    The South East European Cooperation (SEEC) and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), have given proof of the existence of still unexplored fields of cooperation between Greece and Turkey, which need to attract their immediate attention. Also, the newly agreed ‘Stability Pact’ offers a number of opportunities in co-ordinating and developing joint efforts. Adequate publicity should be given to these new possibilities.

PART III (Peacekeeping related proposals)

Background

Peacekeeping has come to the fore as a major task of modern armed forces. The use of military personnel in peacekeeping operations presents a number of confidence building opportunities. Given that both Greece and Turkey have contributed and have taken part in peacekeeping operations, measures such as those listed below could be considered.

Confidence Building Measures

  1. It is suggested that liaison and cooperation between Greek and Turkish contingents in KFOR (or elsewhere) be arranged. Also that a conference be convened for Greek and Turkish officers on ‘lessons learned’ from the experience of Operation ALBA.

  2. It is suggested that Greece and Turkey at an appropriate time consider introducing a bilateral military exchange programme (already existing with other NATO member-states) for students in the armed forces colleges of the two countries

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