Turkish FM suggests shifts in status quo in Aegean

Visiting Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Wednesday that he envisaged a ?new and peaceful status quo as the basis for a settlement? to a bilateral dispute over rights in the Aegean Sea and suggested that Athens and Ankara reformulate long-established stances.

?Greece should get over the idea that Turkey has claims to islands in the Aegean and Turkey should stop being afraid of being excluded from the Aegean,? Davutoglu told journalists ahead of a trip to the northeastern region of Thrace where he is to meet with members of Greece?s Muslim minority.

The Turkish minister reiterated Ankara?s proposal that Greece revoke a decision foreseeing the extension of its territorial waters in the Aegean from 6 to 12 nautical miles while Turkey revokes a decision declaring that such a move by Athens would constitute a casus belli (cause for war). Commenting on the frequent instances of Turkish warships entering Greek waters, Davutoglu claimed that the Turkish public has ?a psychological need? to feel that the Aegean is not just a Greek sea.

Davutoglu suggested that the international Law of the Sea cannot be applied in the Aegean as it is more complex than other territorial waters. ?From a legal standpoint, the Aegean is one of the most challenging seas in the world,? he said.

As for flights over Greek islands by Turkish fighter jets, Davutoglu said that since the sea borders have not been delineated, each country has its own interpretation of national air space.

According to Turkey?s Hurriyet newspaper, Davutoglu told Turkish reporters that Greece and Turkey would look into establishing a code of conduct to regulate flights by military aircraft over the Aegean ?in order to minimize risks.?

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