Despite the political consultations in Ankara on Friday between delegations of the Greek and Turkish foreign ministries, tension continued to simmer due to a barrage of 40 airspace violations by seven Turkish fighter jets in the north and southeastern Aegean, and another challenge to Greece’s sovereignty issued by a senior ranking official of the neighboring country.
Five of the violations led to mock dogfights between Greek and Turkish jets. Moreover, 18 of these violations were overflights over the islands of Ro, Kastellorizo and Strongyli in the southeastern Aegean just after a visit to the area by Chief of the Hellenic Army General Staff Lieutenant-General Georgios Kambas.
At the same time, the acting director general at the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Cagatay Erciyes, posted a comment on Twitter challenging Greece’s sovereign rights, with an attached photo indicating Kastellorizo.
“It is ridiculous to believe that a small island of 10 km2 which is 2 km [from Turkey] and 570 km away [from Greece] can create a 40,000 km2 maritime zone in the Mediterranean,” Erciyes said in a translated comment on Twitter.
Attached to his post was a map of the southeastern Aegean with an inset indicating the position of Kastellorizo.
In response to a tweet that challenged his assertions, Erciyes insisted that it was not his personal opinion.
“It is a terminology / common language used by and before [the International Court of Justice] according to international law to identify the situation of such islands in maritime boundary delimitation,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, speaking in Brussels Friday where he attended a meeting of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council about the crises in Libya and Iran, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said Greece “supports the de-escalation of tension on the basis of international law and dialogue.”
He said it was imperative that the memorandums signed between Ankara and the Tripoli-based government in Libya are “ascertained to be invalid and nonexistent,” and that they only serve to increase tension in the region.
He also said that Greece supports the Berlin Process regarding the Libya crisis and the efforts of United Nations Special Representative Ghassan Salame.