Ankara has reacted strongly to Greek-Egyptian cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean, with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar taking aim at the two countries’ agreement on maritime zones, but also statements made during Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s visit to Athens.
“Unfortunately, there are provocations, irresponsible statements, and attempts to restrict our legal rights, and this is increasing the tension,” Akar said in a speech on Thursday to the Turkish Parliament’s Defense Committee. In this context, he said Turkey cannot be indifferent to the cooperation of Greece with Egypt regarding the Eastern Mediterranean, “so we took all measures to protect our rights and interests in the region.”
Akar also accused Greece of trying to trap Turkey on its shores and once again referred to the island of Kastellorizo. He stressed that Turkey’s shores in the Eastern Mediterranean cover an area of 1,870 kilometers while “Greece claims a sea area of responsibility of 40,000 square kilometers for Kastellorizo which has an area of 10 square kilometers and is 1,950 meters from the Turkish coast and 580 kilometers from mainland Greece.”
Meanwhile on Thursday Cyprus, Greece and Israel agreed to extend their tripartite cooperation in the field of defense. The agreement was reached in Nicosia by defense ministers Charalambos Petrides, Nikos Panagiotopoulos and Benny Gantz, who agreed that the “3+1” scheme could be expanded initially with the participation of the US, which is already involved in aspects of the tripartite scheme.
Panagiotopoulos pointed out that the tripartite condemns “the illegal, provocative and unilateral actions of Turkey in the maritime zones of Greece and Cyprus, which are a clear violation of international law and good-neighborly relations, but also serious undermining of regional stability and peace.”