Prime Minister Turgut Ozal proposed today a summit meeting between Turkey and Greece to resolve problems between the estranged NATO neighbors.
"I propose here and now to the Greek leadership to proceed to comprehensive negotiations. We are ready to participate in such negotiations anywhere, anytime and at any level they like," Ozal told foreign correspondents, including some invited from Athens to a special reception.
The public relations-oriented premier's initiative was complicated by Socialist Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou's virtual ousting of his conservative president last Saturday and by the death Sunday of Soviet president Konstantin Chernenko. Ozal had to rush to the airport immediately after a press conference to catch a plane to Moscow for the funeral.
Although the recent developments in Greece stopped Ozal short of "dropping his real peace bombshell," a diplomat said, he did declare: "I am personally prepared to meet the Greek prime minister to discuss openly with him all the issues we may wish to raise."
Touching on the longstanding Cyprus problem, Ozal said that the Turkish side could return to the conference table once again. He accused the Greek leadership of having undermined the efforts of the United Nations secretary general to find a solution to the problem.
Ozal said it is essential for Ankara and Athens to be on "talking terms" for an eventual settlement of the Cyprus problem. He asked, "How can anyone expect that the Turkish and Greek national communities in Cyprus to trust each other while the leaders of the two motherlands cannot shake hands?"
In his half-hour prepared statement, Ozal accused Greece of mounting a campaign alleging "an imaginary Turkish threat . . . . "This is completely unfounded. We believe that Turkish and Greek interests are not incompatible." He reiterated that Turkey "does not covet an inch of Greek territory."
Announcing his wish for a summit, Ozal asked, "Was it not Plato, an eminent philosopher of ancient Greece, who argued the merits of dialogue in the search of truth?"
Asked "if he was concerned over the recent developments in Greece, Ozal replied, "It is their internal affair. It makes no difference to us."