Turkey eyeing area west of Rhodes

Turkey eyeing area west of Rhodes

The Foreign Ministry on Wednesday rejected a series of sovereignty claims submitted to the United Nations by Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean – including a sea zone extending west of the southeastern Aegean island of Rhodes – as legally unfounded, incorrect and arbitrary, and an outright violation of Greece’s sovereignty.

The Turkish claims were made in a letter by Turkey’s Permanent Representative to the UN Feridun Sinirlioglu on November 13, which presented Ankara’s idea of a “Blue Homeland,” envisaging its sovereignty stretching across half the Eastern Mediterranean. It was the first time the idea had been communicated at such a high level.

The letter stresses Ankara’s right to have maritime zones and a continental shelf west of the 28th meridian (located south of Rhodes), ignoring the Dodecanese island chain in the southeast Aegean and Crete.

The claim thus implies that Turkey seeks to delimit its maritime zones with Libya as it ignores the Dodecanese island and Crete that lie in between. A basic reading of the letter suggests that Ankara sees the area stretching from the 28th to the 32nd meridian to be part of the Turkish continental shelf – including half of Rhodes, Kastellorizo and the island complex of Ro and Strongili.

It also calls on Greece, as well as Libya and Egypt, to discuss how to demarcate the area west of Rhodes. 

In other words, Ankara wants to discuss the status of the continental shelf stretching west of Rhodes to Crete. In its statement, the Greek Foreign Ministry said that this suggests interference in Greece’s right to conclude demarcation agreements with third countries.

Essentially, the letter disputes the influence of the Greek islands on the one hand, while on the other ignoring the rights of Cyprus, which it does not recognize.

As such, in the eyes of Ankara, Cyprus has little or no right to maritime zones and a continental shelf.

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