With Turkey again stepping up provocations in the Aegean, including reserving waters off the Greek island of Kastelorizo for naval exercises, Greek President Prokopis Pavolopoulos said while he wants peaceful co-existence that Greek will never relinquish an inch” of its territorial rights.
“Greece reserves the right to shield its islands and fully exercises all its sovereign rights, including the right to extend its territorial sea, based on international and European law,” Pavlopoulos said, adding the same is true for its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), said Kathimerini.
“We invite Turkey to live in peace [with Greece], but we will not relinquish an inch of our rights,” he added.
That came during a speech in Thessaloniki after tensions between the countries were ramped up when then-Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said just before quitting that Greece would extend its sovereign waters in the Ionian Sea in western Greece from six to 12 miles.
That got Turkey anxious that Greece would try to do the same in the Aegean where the two have been stalking each other as Turkey refuses to recognize the laws of the sea and covets the return of some islands ceded as part of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne Turkey also no longer accepts.
Turkey said it would take all necessary means to protect what it said are its sovereign waters, some of them in dispute.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy said Turkey will continue to act “in line with the equitable principles and all relevant special circumstances. In this vein, there is no advice that we would get from Greece with regard to the delimitation techniques within the framework of international law,” he added.
Earlier, the Greek Foreign Ministry described Turkey as a “violator of international law,” saying that the delimitation of the country’s EEZ shall be determined on the basis of international law and “certainly not by taking into account nonexistent and arbitrary theories adopted by Turkey.”
Turkey also issued a navigational telex (NAVTEX) to announce that it is reserving an area surrounding the territorial waters offof Kastelorizo near the Turkish coast on Oct. 31 for a search-and-rescue exercise and will block marine traffic for four hours, starting at 11 p.m.
Greece’s major rival New Democracy shadow foreign minister George Koumoutsakos accused Turkey of irresponsibility and stoking tension between the two countries.
“The new unacceptable Turkish NAVTEX and Turkey’s persistently infringing behavior maintain and feed the tension in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean,” he said in a statement.
“Ankara thus tests the stability and peace in this sensitive area. This irresponsible attitude must be opposed not only by Greece and the affected states, but by the entire international community,” he added.