Turkey´s Prime Minister Calls For Peace Process With Greece Over the Aegean-24 March 1996
Mr. Mesut Yilmaz, Prime Minister said that Turkey wants to see all the disputes settled between Turkey and Greece in the Aegean and called for a peace process to get started without any preconditions. Its goal would be to find a comprehensive and lasting solution to all issues dividing the two countries in the Aegean.
"The latest crisis (in the Aegean) has demonstrated once again that the present state of Turkish-Greek relations is fraught with dangers. The failure to settle existing problems has created an environment conducive to the eruption of further crises." Mr. Yilmaz said.
"I am therefore calling upon Greece to enter into negotiations without preconditions with a view to settling all the Aegean questions as a whole."
Mr. Yilmaz believes that Turkey and Greece should follow the precedent set in 1930 when the two countries made an historic peace agreement under the leadership of President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and the then Prime Minister of Greece, Eleutherios Venizelos.
"An eventual settlement of Aegean issues will only be viable and long-lasting if it is built upon the fundamental rights and legitimate interests of both countries. We should discuss our differences on the basis of mutual respect and with a willingness to reach a compromise" the Prime Minister said.
Mr. Yilmaz stressed that Turkey has always respected the territorial integrity and the inviolability of the borders of all its neighbours, including Greece, and harbours no intention of altering the status quo in the Aegean by unilateral means.
"An essential aspect of Turkey's position on Aegean issues is respect for the status quo established through international agreements" the Prime Minister said.
Mr. Yilmaz believes that the Aegean Peace Process should be based on the following steps:
- Greece and Turkey would both declare their respect for existing international agreements; respect for each other's territorial integrity; and renounce all unilateral steps in the Aegean.
- Exploratory talks begin without prejudice to either side's position on ways of reaching an overall negotiated solution.
- Preliminary discussions could cover possible third party methods of settlement and the form, conditions, and legal requirements involved.
- Both sides would endeavour to reduce emotions surrounding the Aegean issues and create a new spirit of cooperation and compromise.
- Talks could be held on an initial political declaration setting our the basic principles governing the relationship between Greece and Turkey and establishing a new framework for political cooperation. The document could also specify channels of cooperation and procedures for resolving differences.
- Simultaneous talks on a comprehensive set of confidence-building measures for military activities.
"I sincerely hope that Greece will give due consideration to our call for a peaceful settlement based on international law and legitimacy and will not let this historic opportunity slip away. This process may require a period of reflection and preparation. Turkey will be ready whenever it is that the Greeks respond positively to our proposal and say they are ready to engage in such a peace process" Mr. Yilmaz said.