With fears there could be a military conflict, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared in a photograph with a map claiming nearly half of the Aegean Sea for his country, including Greek islands, and an area up to the eastern coast of Crete.
The picture was taken as he signed the visitors’ book at the National Defense University in Constantinople to attend an event, the map showing clearly behind him on a wall, depicting Turkey’s maritime borders covering Greek islands into the Cyclades.
It was entitled Turkey, Blue Homeland,” showing the country’s sovereign waters cover a 462,000-square kilometer (287,073 square miles) area, and as Turkey has drillships unlawfully in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) hunting for energy.
Greece’s new New Democracy government reacted immediately, with Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias telling Alpha 98.9 FM radio that the map was a “public relations stunt,” by Erdogan and that Turkey continues to “act like the region’s troublemaker” but would draw no response in trying to bait a response.
“States’ borders are not defined by whatever map some ministry decides to draw, but on the basis of international law,” Dendias said, referring to the photograph, and adding that Turkey’s opinions are from a “minority of one” – repeating a phrase used by former US Assistant Secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs Wess Mitchell in an interview with Kathimerini last year.
Dendias said the antics serve to “establish Turkey’s image as a violator.” “International law cannot be trumped by public relations stunts,” he said, but using the chance to scold Turkey for violating the waters off Cyprus, where Turkey, Greece and the former Colonial ruler the United Kingdom, which still has military bases there, are guarantors of security.
“Cyprus is an independent European Union state. It is clear that, along with its sovereignty, Turkey is also violating the Republic of Cyprus’ sovereign rights. We hope Turkey falls in line,” he said.
Turkey, which also continues to have fighter jets violate Greek airspace, has not been reprimanded or denounced by NATO, the defense alliance to which both countries belong and as Erdogan had said he doesn’t recognize the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne which sets borders between the countries, and he covets return of islands ceded to Greece.