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Athens hits back at Ankara’s ‘hypocrisy’

TAGS: Diplomacy, Turkey

The Foreign Ministry hit back on Thursday against what it called Turkey’s “hypocritical” call for Greece to uphold international law and demilitarize 16 Aegean islands.

“It is at the very least hypocritical for a country that systematically violates the territorial integrity, sovereignty and sovereign rights of nearly all its neighboring countries – a country that threatens to go to war with its neighbor and ally if the latter exercises its legal rights, a country that trumpets its violation of the [United Nations] arms embargo on Libya – to invoke international law,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The statement concluded by saying that Greece is “understandably concerned at the fact that the international community’s constant urgings to Turkey to respect international law are falling on deaf ears.”

Turkey Defense Minister Hulusi Akar had called on Greece to demilitarize 16 Greek islands near the Turkish coast, which he claimed have a “non-military status.”  Akar reportedly said that arming 16 out of 23 islands with non-military status is in violation of agreements in the Aegean Sea.

“We expect Greece to act according to international law, agreements and good-neighborly relations,” he said.

For his part, Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos was more succinct, saying that “whatever is threatened does not become demilitarized.” 

Meanwhile, referring to energy exploration in the East Mediterranean and the EastMed pipeline, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday from Davos that Greece doesn’t “need Turkey’s permission to do that.”

“At the end of the day, we have to play by the rules of international law,” he said during a discussion with Harvard and Stanford history professor Niall Ferguson before an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

”Spoilers should not be rewarded,” he added.

As for Turkey’s maritime border deal with Libya, Mitsotakis said it is “not just legally but also geographically preposterous” and has not been recognized by Libya’s Parliament.

“Libya and Turkey don’t have any opposing coasts so you cannot sign a delimitation agreement regarding maritime zones,” he said, adding that the deal disregards the right of Greek islands to an exclusive economic zone.

“There’s not going to be a political solution in Libya... unless these agreements are scrapped,” he added.

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