Diplomacy Falters

Article excerpt

Byline: James Morrison, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Diplomacy falters

The earthquake diplomacy between Greece and Turkey has failed to bridge fundamental disputes between the two regional rivals, according to Greek Defense Minister Yannos Papantoniou.

Mr. Papantoniou offered a downbeat assessment of Greek-Turkish relations when he met last week in Washington with our reporter, David R. Sands, and other correspondents at a breakfast meeting at Greek Ambassador Alexandre Philon's residence.

His surprise analysis contrasted with the widely reported thaw in relations after the Greek humanitarian response to the devastating earthquake in Turkey in 1999.

"All the rapprochement to date between Greece and Turkey has been on a superficial level," said the minister, who met with National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld during his visit.

"It has dealt with the soft issues in the relationship but has not touched the core questions," including disputed boundaries in the Aegean Sea and the standoff over Cyprus, Mr. Papantoniou said. The improved tone of the relationship "served Turkey's interests at the time, including getting candidate's status with the European Union."

Turkey did receive the EU offer to apply for membership, but "now the core issues are front and center," said Mr. Papantoniou, and the current outlook in Athens isn't optimistic.

He said the political weakness of the Turkish government and the surging fortunes of Turkish political elements opposed to greater integration with the West were causes of concern.

"Is Turkey ready to make the necessary moves to resolve some of the fundamental questions between us? I'm afraid the answer for the time being is not a very hopeful one," Mr. Papantoniou said.

Mission to Venezuela

A delegation from the Organization of American States (OAS) rushed to Venezuela yesterday to try to make sense of the political upheaval that saw President Hugo Chavez overthrown and restored to power within 48 hours.

OAS Secretary-General Cesar Gaviria is to report back to the OAS Permanent Council on Thursday.

"In the last few days, the situation in Venezuela has been of great concern to all democratic countries of the Americas," Mr. …