Testimony by George J. Tenet

The following is extracted from testimony given to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, in a hearing on on 5 February 1997 on "Current and Projected National Security Threats to the United States."

George J. Tenet, acting Director of Central Intelligence:

"We are concerned about the rising tensions between Greece and Turkey. Long-standing animosity, exacerbated by festering disputes over Cyprus and the Aegean, are fueling growing nationalist sentiments in both countries. Both states have been more aggressive since January 1996 in challenging Aegean sea and air boundaries and disputing the sovereignty of selected islands. On Cyprus, Greek Cypriots have concluded deals to take delivery of more military equipment, including SA-10 surface-to-air missiles. Several events have the potential for provoking violence in the coming months, including delivery of these missiles and national military exercises by both sides on Cyprus that are scheduled for the fall.

In the current political environment of both countries, maneuvering room is limited and prospects for compromise dim. In Greece, Prime Minister Simitis must balance often competing views about the approach Athens should take to these tensions. As for Turkey, it is beset by a host of domestic and foreign challenges. At home its attention is focused on Kurdish separatism, structural economic programs, and a growing debate about the role of Islam in modern Turkey. To the south and east, Turkey sees rivalries, instabilities, and conflict. To the north, Turkey sees indifference---if not hostility---from Western Europe."

Toby Trister Gati, Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research:

"Tensions between Greece and Turkey have in the past almost led to open conflict and the same is true today, whether over the installation of air defense missiles on Cyprus by the Greek Cypriots, competing claims involving tiny islets, or accidental clashes and hair-trigger military plans. Failure to find a real, long-term solution on Cyprus and in the Aegean could put Turkey toward the east, undermine both NATO and EU expansion (because of Turkish and Greek vetoes), and cause serious problems in the Middle East peace process and in US relations with Russia, which is becoming a major arms supplier to Cyprus."

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