OPINION

Wrong reaction

It should be Ankara and not Athens which should be expressing concerns over former president Costis Stephanopoulos’s remarks that the two countries should take their dispute over air space to the International Court of Justice at The Hague. There are many arguments to back this policy, first proposed by the late Constantine Karamanlis in 1975. In a bid to demonstrate Greece’s good will to the world and, most importantly, to lift European objections to Greece’s membership of the bloc prompted by tension between Athens and Ankara, Karamanlis asked Turkey to accept taking the issue of the delineation of the continental shelf to the Hague but it met with an intransigent and aggressive reaction. Ankara replied that Karamanlis’s proposal would be accepted on the condition that Greece recognized that the continental shelf is an extension of Anatolia. That would mean that half of the continental shelf belongs to Turkey and that all of Greece’s northern Aegean islands lie on the Turkish continental shelf. Of course the Turkish condition would automatically «settle» the dispute, making the tribunal redundant. Karamanlis’s proposal revealed Turkey’s expansionist drive and its blatant disregard for international law. Moreover, Ankara’s aggressive rejection of the Hague court confirmed that the deep state rules out any outside judgment on bilateral disputes. Turkey is not willing to make the slightest concession over its official claims in the Aegean, Cyprus and eastern Thrace. Greece has nothing to lose by pushing the Hague solution – particularly given that its positions on the continental shelf and the territorial waters are based on international treaties. Which makes one wonder why political leaders, deputies, pundits and other self-styled experts rushed to take a public stand on Stephanopoulos’s remarks.