Turks dampen expectations

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

``We do not expect miracles from the Athens summit,'' a senior Turkish official says, cautioning against being overly optimistic. ``Entertaining too much hope before the meeting can lead to disappointment later.'' The Turks do not, however, undervalue the importance of this encounter. ``The fact that the Davos momentum is maintained is a significant move,'' Foreign Ministry spokesman Inal Batu says. ``The Greeks now are willing, as much as we [are], to see this process go on.''

Turkish officials say no one should expect that Prime Minister Turgut Ozal will take to Athens plans or proposals that would resolve the differences that have existed for years between the two neighboring nations. ``The Greeks should not expect the Prime Minister to bring them gifts on Cyprus or the Aegean conflicts,'' Mr. Batu comments. He says the Greek press has created the wrong impression that Turkey will announce a partial withdrawal of Turkish troops from Cyprus, before or as soon as Mr. Ozal sets foot in Athens today.

Ozal himself last week came out with a statement denying those reports. Noting that Greece was trying to put pressure on Turkey on the troop pullout, Ozal said, ``As long as this [campaign] continues, we cannot withdraw one single soldier from Cyprus.''

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He pointed out that the withdrawal ``of a few thousand soldiers'' - Turkey's total forces in Northern Cyprus are estimated at around 30,000 - does not mean much.

``The main thing is to have an agreement [settlement] first on Cyprus,'' Ozal added.

On the Aegean disputes - the continental shelf, air space, territorial waters, and the militarization of the Greek islands and the Turkish coast - the Turks expect no movement. Says one Turkish analyst: ``Each side will repeat its known position. Probably it will be a dialogue of the deaf.

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