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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: JONATHAN CLARKE
April 16, 1997 No. 17/97

U.S. Strategy in the Aegean: A Defense Department Analysis

On April 16, 1997, General Robert T. Osterthaler, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Affairs, gave a presentation on U.S. strategic interests in South Eastern Europe at the American Hellenic Institute. This was the fourth in the series of AHI Noon Forums. As on previous occasions, the forum attracted a wide attendance from senior members of Washington's press, think-tank, academic, and diplomatic community.

In his off-the record remarks, General Osterthaler identified the principal U.S. priorities in Europe as to implement the expansion of NATO and to encourage the enlargement of the European Union. This was the context in which top U.S. policy-makers viewed regional problems such as those involving Turkey's relationship with Europe and th problems in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean.

General Osterthaler discussed some of the impediments in the way of speedy accomplishment of U.S. objectives. These included Greek-Turkish tensions and the political situation in Turkey. Problems such as these were very costly, both to the countries concerned and to the broader questions of U.S. interests in Europe.

During a lively question-and-answer session, General Osterthaler covered a wide range of issues, including the prospects for Greek-Turkish rapprochement, arms sales to Turkey, human rights, the Kurdish question, territorial and airspace matters in the Aegean, and Albania.

On Cyprus, General Osterthaler said that the Administration was considering new ideas for a major U.S. initiative designed to promote a broad regional settlement. He outlined some of the elements that the initiative might include. Sounding a note of caution, however, he said that no decision had been made about the initiative. The Administration would not commit itself to a search for a settlement unless the parties concerned were themselves ready to negotiate in good faith.

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