From 1987-How war was avoided between Greece and Turkey



The crisis between Greece and Turkey over oil-drilling rights in the Aegean appeared to ease today, and Greece withdrew its demand for the temporary closing of a major United States naval installation.
The developments seemed to pull Greece and Turkey, who are nominal allies within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, back from the brink of hostilities. On Friday both sides threatened military action in a test of wills over the right to drill for oil in disputed Aegean waters. [ In Washington, a State Department spokesman said ''we are pleased'' that Greece had withdrawn its demand that the American installation be closed. ] The critical development in easing the crisis, foreign diplomats said, came Friday night when Prime Minister Turgut Ozal of Turkey, under pressure from the United States and other NATO nations, ordered a Turkish seismic research vessel to avoid the disputed waters around three Greek Aegean islands, Lesbos, Lemnos and Samothrace.
Turkish officials in Ankara said Greece had given an assurance that it would not drill for oil in other disputed Aegean waters around the island of Thasos. In the Turkish version of events, Ankara believed that Greek drilling would start there today and moved Friday to pre-empt it.
A spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Yalim Eralp, said that the Greeks had given up their idea and that ''if they do not enter the disputed waters, then neither shall we.''
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With Turkey stepping back from a possible confrontation, analysts said, Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou of Greece felt able, without losing face, to lift his demand that the United States suspend operations at the naval base near Athens.
''The Greek Government has withdrawn its request for the base operations at Nea Makri to be suspended,'' a United States Embassy spokesman told reporters.

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A Greek spokesman, Yannis Roubatis, said the reasons for the demand ''no longer existed.''
Mr. Papandreou sought to justify his action against the base - one of 4 major and about 20 smaller American installations in Greece - by accusing Washington of encouraging Ankara to challenge Greek oil rights in the Aegean.
Greece was said to have told American officials that they were satisfied with the Turkish Prime Minister's statements and were thus withdrawing their demand for suspension of American operations at the base. Base Operation Did Not Stop
The base, near Marathon Bay, with about 350 mainly American personnel, is an important communications installation for the Navy. Despite the Greek demand on Friday, officials said, operations did not cease.
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The Navy also has a major base on the island of Crete, and the United States maintains a logistics and communications base at Athens airport. Greece receives military aid of $500 million in credits in return for allowing the American installations.
Mr. Papandreou told reporters today that he felt ''restricted optimism'' about the crisis, a sentiment echoed by other Greek leaders after meetings with the Prime Minister. ''The climate is calmer today,'' said the Communist Party leader, Harilaos Florakis.
On Friday, Turkey said it was sending the Sismik 1 research vessel with an escort of warships into waters claimed by Greece to look for oil. Greek and Turkish armed forces were reported on alert, and both sides said they would use force if obstructed by the other.
The crisis brought a major surge of tension on NATO's southeastern flank, prompting NATO ambassadors as well as the Reagan Administration to urge restraint on both sides. Hoarding of Canned Goods
The developments inspired nervousness among Greeks, who crammed supermarkets Friday to stock up on canned foods, as if expecting the worst. ''On the Brink of Aegean War,'' the English-language Athens News said in a banner headline.
Friday night, however, Prime Minister Ozal said the Sismik 1 would remain in Turkish waters.
''If Greece interferes with our vessel in any way, and this is what Papandreou is saying, we will act in the same way against him,'' Mr. Ozal said. ''As a result, it could be cause for war.''
But he added, referring to Greece, ''We are waiting for the first move from them.''
The Sismik 1 was reported to have sailed today from the Turkish port of Canakkale in the Dardanelles. It was said to have been escorted by warships. But the semi-official Anatolian News Agency in Turkey said it restricted its soundings to Turkish waters in the Gulf of Saros.
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The Sismik 1, converted to seismic research after being seized from smugglers in the 1970's, figured in a similar crisis in 1976. Athens Nationalizing Consortium
The newest crisis erupted after Greece announced plans to nationalize a Canadian-led consortium that planned to drill for oil 11 miles east of the Greek island of Thasos. Greece maintains the right to extend its present territorial waters to 12 miles from 6, but Turkey says such an extension would be a cause for war.
Greece has about 2,500 islands in the Aegean, and an extension of territorial waters around them to 12 miles would give Athens control of 71 percent of the sea, compared with 43 percent now. That would also make it impossible for Turkish shipping to reach the Mediterranean without crossing Greek waters.
The two sides also dispute the extent of each other's continental shelf.
When the crisis began building, Turkey said Greece's plan to nationalize the North Aegean Petroleum Corporation showed that Athens had broken an agreement with Ankara to refrain from drilling until their disputes were resolved.
Greek officials, by contrast, depicted the nationalization plan as a way of preventing the consortium from causing an international incident by drilling under a concession that expires on April 1.
Two days ago, Turkey issued licenses to the state-owned Turkish Petroleum Company permitting it to explore in areas that Athens says lie largely within Greek territorial waters. Regarded as a Standoff
Diplomats based in Athens depicted the easing of tension today as a standoff that cost Turkey a loss of face. The United States was also believed to be angered at being drawn into the dispute.
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Mr. Papandreou has often threatened to close all American bases in Greece, and he repeated the threat Friday, saying they would be shut down if his country moved closer to war with Turkey.
He demanded the suspension of base operations under a 1983 agreement permitting him to do so to protect national interests. The agreement is to expire next year, and the Prime Minister has given no explicit commitment to renewing it. The newest episode, diplomats said, seemed likely to make negotiations on a renewal more difficult. $ ? ---- WASHINGTON IS PLEASED
WASHINGTON, March 28 (Special to the New York Times) - A State Department spokesman said today that ''we are pleased'' that Greece withdrew its demand for the suspension of operations at the United States naval installation at Nea Makri.
On Friday in Brussels, Lord Carrington, the Secretary General of NATO, urged Greece and Turkey to avoid the use of force and offered to act as a mediator.
The State Department spokesman, Bruce Ammerman, said: ''We understand that Turkey has accepted this offer. We hope both allies will take advantage of this opportunity to seek a peaceful solution to their dispute.''
Another State Department official said Turkey's decision not to have its ship sail into contested waters was ''a definite standdown.''

A version of this article appears in print on
March 29, 1987
, Section 1, Page 1 of the National edition with the headline: GREEKS AND TURKS EASE AEGEAN CRISIS. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe


because they're both NATO and the Soviet's is the scarier guy in the room I guess.

Well that's obvious for the time period but 1987 was the era of "perestroika" and lessening of tensions between East and West back then anyways the problems over East Med is older than most people think


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because they're both NATO and the Soviet's is the scarier guy in the room I guess.

Soviets were declining in the 1980s. Their threat against nato was going away until its eventual collapse in the early 90s.

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