Deploying a practice from the distant past in recent months, as can be seen from the analysis of the data, Turkish authorities are testing the waters regarding the possibility of closing the bays of the Turkish coast and the islets belonging to Turkey to extend Ankara’s waters and promote its maximalist positions.
The move comes amid the purely literary debate in recent months on the possible partial extension by Greece of its territorial waters from 6 to 12 nautical miles.
Turkey’s stance has been apparent since the autumn of 2022, when crews of merchant ships, fishing vessels and other vessels flying the flags of third countries, but always of Turkish interests, frequently responded to hailing calls from the Hellenic Coast Guard, claiming to be operating within Turkish territorial waters or international waters.
These vessels were in fact moving across the halfway line between the Turkish coast and the islands and sometimes within Greek territorial waters.
Unfortunately, according to well-informed sources at the diplomatic and military level, the Turks appear to be acting on the basis of a 1964 presidential decree which is not in line with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
On the basis of that presidential decree, which followed the, belated, extension of Turkey’s territorial waters from 3 to 6 nautical miles, all the gulfs of Asia Minor in the Aegean and the part of the Eastern Mediterranean that concerns Greece were “closed” with straight baselines.
In practice, this means that the Turks measure the territorial waters of their coast from the straight baseline that closes the bay, shifting the influence of Asia Minor over the Greek islands in a way that violates the existing status quo of the 6-nautical mile coastal zone in the Aegean Sea in every respect.