Greece has pulled out of North Atlantic Treaty Organization sea maneuvers being held in the eastern Mediterranean, accusing the alliance of giving in to Turkish pressure to exclude the Greek island of Limnos in the northern Aegean from the exercise.
Greece and Turkey are bitterly at odds over the militarized status of Limnos, and it has been NATO practice to avoid extending maneuvers to the island.
Greece claims the right to fortify Limnos, disagreeing with Turkey about the applicability of past treaties dealing with the issue.
Since coming to power two years ago the Greek Socialists have refused to participate in exercises that exclude Limnos and the current exercise was thus designed to include the island in a two-day portion of the maneuvers.
But that portion, which had been scheduled for next week, was called off this week, apparently after Greek statements hailing the island's inclusion as a diplomatic victory over Turkey provoked a reaction by Ankara in NATO's Defense Planning Committee.
A Greek government spokesman said yesterday that Greece had made the inclusion of Limnos a condition for taking part in the maneuvers and that since plans for exercises on Limnos had been scrapped in response to Turkish pressures, Greece had decided to pull out of the entire maneuvers.
NATO sources in Brussels indicated that the alliance felt it had made a mistake by trying to satisfy Greek and Turkish interests over Limnos.
Meanwhile, Greece this week continued its policy of not allowing the U.S. military bases here to be used for the support of the multinational force operations in Lebanon. Greek authorities refused to allow an American warship to pick up ammunition for delivery to Beirut from the Souda Bay base on the island of Crete. Last week they refused to permit an airlift of military equipment to Souda for transport by ship to Lebanon.
The government has denied local press reports that Syrian military aircraft were allowed to land at Greek airfields.
Greece's position is that Athens does not want to jeopardize its relations with friendly Arab states by becoming embroiled in the current conflict in Lebanon.
A Greek government spokesman also said that the Papandreou government is anxious not to give cause for future misinterpretation of the recently signed defense cooperation agreement with the United States. This agreement, which is to come into effect next year, states that the bases must be used only for defensive purposes.
Under present defense cooperation arrangements, the United States cannot use the bases to support military activities in the Middle East unless granted special permission. However the Nea Makri communications center, one of the four major U.S. military facilities in Greece, is routinely responsible for communications between units of the 6th Fleet.