Eastern Mediterranean Conference IV
For Immediate Release
October 23, 2003
STRATEGIC ISSUES ON AEGEAN, CYPRUS, IRAQ, NATO HIGHLIGHTED IN TALKS BETWEEN GREEK, TURKISH SECURITY EXPERTS
Athens, Greece - The Athens meeting of senior-level retired Greek and Turkish generals and admirals, along with security analysts from both countries, organized by the Washington-based Western Policy Center, today concluded four rounds of intensive talks on the Cyprus problem, the Aegean issues, the regional aftermath of the Iraq war, and the future of euro-Atlantic relations. At the end of the conference, Greek Foreign Minister George A. Papandreou personally briefed the participants regarding the positions and objectives of Greece's foreign policy.
The conference, co-organized by the Hellenic Leadership Institute and the American Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, with active support from the Ankara-based Eurasian Center for Strategic Studies (ASAM), also included active duty officers and diplomatic officials from the Greek and Turkish ministries of foreign affairs, the Turkish and Israeli embassies, and the U.S. Department of Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff.
On Wednesday, the Cyprus panelists focused on the political and security dimensions facing Greece and Turkey in the upcoming months, given Cyprus' May 2004 EU accession and Turkey's hopeful negotiations after December 2004. The issues of personal security for Turkish Cypriots and strategic security for Greek Cypriots, remain central to continue irresolution of the Cyprus problem, as did the question of whether Turkish leaders agree on the acceptable domestic costs of a Cyprus settlement as Turkey strives for EU accession.
The Aegean panelists explored various options for moving towards resolution, with assessments of the full range of plausible scenarios, from optimum to worst-case, from direct bilateral resolution to package submission to the Hague, and with or without U.S. diplomatic engagement of the parties. Emphasis was given to promoting mutual respect and trust based on correcting education curricula, balancing media coverage, and fostering open, tolerant political and social frameworks for Greek-Turkish cooperation through constructive non-governmental organizational (NGO) activities.
On Thursday, the conference panelists examined the regional impact of the U.S.-led campaign against Iraq, and the degree to which allied cooperation to restore stability and promote democratic institutions in Iraq will be possible in the months and years ahead. Panelists also reviewed the strength of the NATO alliance after fractious pre- and post-Iraq war debates, and the potential NATO-EU collaboration to enhance political ties among member and candidate countries and build civil society in Eastern and Central Europe countries struggling after decades of Communist rule.
The conference also included presentations by NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General Holgar Pfeiffer on the geopolitical importance of the eastern Mediterranean for euro-Atlantic security, and by Dr. Amikam Nachmani of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, on Israel's relations with Greece and Turkey and trilateral concerns about the consequences of Arab underdevelopment on regional and international security issues.
The Eastern Mediterranean Security conference process began in Washington D.C. in 2000, and moved into the region last year when the Western Policy Center partnered with ASAM to organize the conference in Ankara. The Western Policy Center will continue engaging parties in the region with future conferences in Greece and Turkey, as well as a series of related roundtables, white papers and update reports to be regularly produced in Washington, D.C.