Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou will attend the scheduled NATO Council of Ministers meeting in Brussels in early December in his capacity as minister of defense, informed sources said today.
The decision reflects the priority the new socialist administration here gives to briefing, directly and on the highest possible level, Greece's Western strategic and economic allies on foreign policy objectives.
A government spokesman in Athens today denied Turkish press reports of a Brussels meeting between Greek and Turkish foreign ministers. In meetings with the Turkish ambassador here, Papandreou has refused to commit himself to the Athens-Ankara dialogue the previous administration pursued.
Before going to Brussels and immediately after formally presenting the government's policy program for a parliamentary vote of confidence, Papandreou will attend the Nov. 25 European Community summit in London. There, sources say, he will lay out Greek policy toward the Common Market.
The sweep to power by Papandreou's Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok) in parliamentary elections Oct. 18 was viewed circumspectly in Western capitals, where fears were raised over the Socialists' proclaimed "strategic goals" of pulling out of NATO and the European Community, and closing down the U.S. bases on Greek soil.
Since the elections, Papandreou has made clear that he feels the existing terms defining Greek relations with the United States, NATO and the European Community do not adequately serve national interests. But he has stressed that he will seek to improve these terms through negotiation rather than unilaterally.
In Brussels, Papandreou will be stating Greece's case for special treatment within NATO, due to what he calls its "unique situation" of being threatened by a member, Turkey. He has said that he wants the alliance to guarantee Greece's borders with Turkey, where he perceives a threat that diverts national defense resources away from the Warsaw Pact danger to the north.
He has also indicated privately that he would like NATO to supply Greece with military hardware to construct a second line of defense in Thrace and in the Greek Aegean islands near Turkey.
It is believed that Papandreou will tell the NATO ministers that what they have tried to view as a kitchen quarrel between Greeks and Turks must be treated seriously to avert an irreversible split in the southeastern flank.
Turkey's 1974 invasion of Cyprus and occupation of 40 percent of that island are sticking points. Papandreou, whose first foreign policy step was to raise economic and military aid to Cyprus, reportedly wants a settlement there as a precedent for settling Aegean disputes.
Ankara shows no sign of acceding to his call to withdraw its troops, but Papandreou may ask the NATO partners to press for withdrawal in the interest of unity.
In the Aegean, the Greeks want a return to the status quo before 1974, when the NATO Larissa Command in northern Greece exercised full operational control.