End Of Gulf War May Cause Turmoil On NATO’s Southern Flank With PM-Gulf Rdp, Bjt
ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ The end of the Persian Gulf War could mean serious problems for NATO’s southeastern flank as rivals Greece and Turkey try to capitalize on their contributions to the allied coalition.
Greek President Constantine Caramanlis recently said the war’s end may ″trigger other forms of conflict″ in the region.
″This danger will of course be reinforced if Turkey, emboldened by third parties, succumbs to the temptation of benefiting from the Mideast chaos,″ he said.
Greece and Turkey are members of the coalition that defeated Iraq in the Gulf War. But the two countries have bitterly disputed the political status of Cyprus as well as oil rights in the Aegean Sea.
Greece sent its top frigate to the Red Sea to help enforce the U.N. embargo imposed on Baghdad after Iraq, invaded Kuwait in August, and Turkey allowed American warplanes to use a U.S.-Turkish base for strikes on neighboring Iraq.
Greece’s prime minister, Constantine Mitsotakis, said previously that his government’s contribution ensured Greece ″would not be internationally isolated and our support in Washington would not be undermined.″
But Greece since has been stung by a series of U.S. actions.
They include a human rights report claiming minority abuses in Greece and a decision by the Bush administration, which sends aid to both Greece and Turkey, to widen the 7-10 military aid ratio in Turkey’s favor to a 2-1 ratio.
The government was particularly upset by a travel advisory recommending that Americans avoid visiting Greece. The United States issued the advisory came local pro-Iraqi terrorists blew up the offices of some American, French and British businesses in Athens.
Tourism is one of Greece’s largest foreign income earners; more than 11 million visitors brought in $4.1 billion in 1990, or 3.7 percent of the gross national product.
The National Tourism Organization was expecting a 70 percent increase in tourism revenues this year. Now officials say the number of visitors could plummet by nearly 80 percent because of the war and the travel advisory.
Retired Vice Air Marshal Nikos Kouris, former chairman of the military’s joint chiefs of staff, said the U.S. aid ratio is important ″not because of the money but because it is symbolic, a political guarantee for Greece’s safety.″
The United States proposed giving Turkey $704 million next year, compared with $350 million for Greece.
A Greek government spokesman, Vyron Polydoras, said officials would appeal to the U.S. Congress to retain the old ratio.
Greece long has said that Turkey is its primary military threat.
Tensions rose recently after Turkish President Turgut Ozal told military cadets on Feb. 15: ″If the Greeks are afraid of us, this is because of our armed forces.″
Longstanding disputes between the nations remain, including one over seabed oil drilling rights that brought the neighbors to the brink of war in March 1987.
The most serious dispute is over Cyprus.
Greece says firm enforcement of U.N. resolutions during the Persian Gulf War should open the way for withdrawal of about 30,000 Turkish troops from the island.
Turkey says they are there to protect the Turkish minority and rejects any attempts to link the liberation of Kuwait to Cyprus.
Turkey invaded the eastern Mediterranean island in 1974 and occupied one- third of it after Greek Cypriots seeking union with Greece staged a coup with the backing of Athens.
The United Nations has passed numerous resolutions since then asking that both sides resolve the dispute and that all foreign troops withdraw from Cyprus. The latest resolution was passed last March.