There are no changes to the current limits and responsibilities for search and rescue operations (SAR) in the area of responsibility of Athens, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), essentially canceling out Turkish claims to the contrary.
The ICAO position came in the wake of Ankara’s unilateral submission of a map showing Turkey’s area of responsibility for search and rescue operations in Greece’s area of responsibility. The Turkish map is aligned with areas outlined in Ankara’s Blue Homeland doctrine, which envisions Turkish influence over large swaths of the Eastern Mediterranean at the expense of Greece and other countries in the region.
Diplomatic sources reported on Tuesday that ICAO Secretary-General Fang Liu made this clear in her reply letter to Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias regarding the Turkish map. The same sources said Liu added that no proposal has been submitted to modify these limits of jurisdiction by the Turkish side.
She also said that these limits can be amended only if there is agreement from all countries in the region, including of course Greece.
Meanwhile, Dendias heads to Berlin on Wednesday for contacts with his counterpart Heiko Maas and the leadership of the German Federal Parliament.
Dendias spoke on Tuesday with his counterpart from the United Arab Emirates, Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, focusing on the Eastern Mediterranean, and Austria’s Alexander Schallenberg, to whom he expressed his solidarity following the terrorist attack in Vienna.
At the same time, more incendiary rhetoric came out of Ankara on Tuesday, with Defense Minister Hulusi Akar saying that “Greece must give up selfishness” and comply with international law, agreements, maritime law, international practices, international decisions, justice, humanity and morality.
“All issues such as the demilitarization of the islands, the 6-mile and 10-mile issues, and the airspace and territorial waters of the islands must be reconsidered,” he said.