Clinton's letter

Athens, 04/07/1996 (ANA)

The text of US President Bill Clinton's letter is as follows:

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

"I share the serious concerns raised in your letter about the continuing climate of confrontation between Greece and Turkey. My administration and I have devoted considerable time and energy to finding ways to help resolve these problems. I have no doubt that a conflict between Greece and Turkey would be an unparalleled tragedy for both countries, and a disaster for NATO and the entire region.

"Stability in the Aegean is essential and must be everyone's common goal. I understand that improving Greek-Turkish relations will not be easy, but this goal must be pursued. My government stands ready to help. As I said during your visit here, an improvement in relations must be based on respect for international law and treaties, respect for each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and a commitment to resolve disputes without force or the threat of force. In the case of the Aegean islets, I reiterate my suggestion that it should be referred to the International Court of Justice or some other consensual body for adjudication.

"My government approached the Turks quickly and clearly regarding Gavdhos. Their statement had only served to heighten tensions in the region. I am pleased that Turkey has now clarified that it did not, and does not, mean to question the sovereignty of Gavdhos.

"Mr. Prime Minister, I share your commitment to peace and stability, both in your region and around the world. Greece and Turkey need to work to reduce tensions in the Aegean and elsewhere. I believe it is particularly important for your nations to find ways to reduce the risk of dangerous incidents between your ships and aircraft, a matter we have raised with both governments. Too often, military activities and exercises in the region have gone to the edge, raising tensions and inviting a corresponding escalation.

"I know there has been some consideration of implementing the 1988 Papoulias-Yilmaz accords, and of instituting a hotline between the two capitals. This would be a good start toward reducing the risk of inadvertent confrontation, and a reassuring sign o f good will to citizens of both countries. My government is ready to help. The July 3 visit by State Department Under Secretary Peter Tarnoff to Athens should provide a timely opportunity to discuss these issues. NATO Secretary-General Solana has also offered his good offices to work toward a solution. I welcome any additional ideas you may have in this regard.


Bill Clinton