Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias criticized Turkey for disputing the legal right of the Greek islands to have a continental shelf and an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and denying the validity of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, during a lecture at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) in Oslo on Wednesday, prompting the attending Turkish ambassador to Norway to quickly respond that “all of these actions are in response to something you have been doing.”
During the lecture, Dendias also said that Turkey has been threatening Greece with war since 1995 – the so-called “casus belli” – if Athens exercises its legal right to extend its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles. The head of Greek diplomacy stressed that with its casus belli, Turkey is violating fundamental principles of the UN Charter.
Turkish envoy Fazli Corman responded that the Turkish-Libyan agreement “was also a consequence of something that you also know very well.”
“And the casus belli declaration by the Turkish Grand National Assembly was also a consequence that Greece was telling that they will go ahead unilaterally declaring the continental waters as 12 miles. And this would practically ‘lock’ Turkish waters, Turkey’s ability to reach international waters, and Turkey will be locked into its own territorial waters. That is what you are imposing, or you are trying to tell Turkey,” the ambassador said.
He said during the negotiations of UNCLOS, Turkey persistently objected to the notion of the islands having exactly the same effect on the delimitation. “Because on the Aegean case, it is impossible for us to accept this. The Aegean Sea is a very specific case, and as you were telling, one side of the sea should be able to look at the other side.”
Dendias retorted that Turkey has subscribed to the UN Charter which totally prohibits the use of force and the threat of the use of force. “Isn’t a casus belli exactly what is prohibited by the UN Charter?… Is that really an invitation to a dialogue? Or is it a pure threat -and I could use much harder words than ‘pure threat?’”
“The truth is that the difference between Greece and Turkey are solvable. Under one precondition: that Turkey comes to the 21st century. If Turkey stays in the 19th century, if Turkey stays in the way that Suleiman the Magnificent was conducting affairs by having the armadas around the Mediterranean, then this is a no go,” the Greek minister added.