NEWS

Turkish claims going too far

STAVROS PAPANTONIOU

TAGS: Turkey, Diplomacy

Picking up where it left off last week with the signing of a maritime border accord with Libya at the expense of Greece’s sovereignty, Turkey raised tension another notch on Monday by disputing the continental shelf of the southern Greek island of Kastellorizo.

Referring to the denouncement of the accord by the Greek and Egyptian foreign ministers on Sunday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry claimed on Monday that Greek islands “cannot generate a maritime jurisdiction area.”

In response, Greece’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alexandros Gennimatas remarked that Turkey cannot “impinge on the sovereign rights of our islands which are solidly enshrined in international law and, more specifically, in the International Law of the Sea.”

“Turkey’s persistence in attempting to make disappear the maritime zones of islands – such as Crete, Rhodes, Karpathos, Kastellorizo – or even of entire island states, through ploys such as invalid bilateral memoranda that, all of a sudden, are magically transformed into agreements, or through selectively invoking court rulings or articles of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) – to which nevertheless it refuses to become party – produces no international legal effect,” Gennimatas said.

His remarks also came on the heels of statements by Turkey’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy, that the islands which lie on the opposite side of the median line between two mainlands “cannot create maritime jurisdiction areas beyond their territorial waters and that the length and direction of the coasts should be taken into account in delineating maritime jurisdiction areas.”

Moreover, a Turkish diplomat posted a map on Monday showing what he claimed to be the continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean which ignores the continental shelf of the islands, and disregarding the presence of Crete.

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias told Skai TV that Turkey is hiding behind the fact that it has not signed the maritime law convention and is therefore “invoking groundless things.”

Turkey’s stance was also denounced on Monday by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the UN climate change summit in Madrid, saying that it is “undermining” the bloc’s efforts to develop energy reserves in the area.

He is expected to raise Turkey at the NATO summit in London which begins Tuesday, and at a lunch with Donald Trump on Wednesday.

Meanwhile the leaders of SYRIZA and Movement for Change, Alexis Tsipras and Fofi Gennimata, said that Athens must increase pressure on the European Union to toughen its stance toward Ankara and called for a meeting of the National Council for Foreign Policy.

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