ATHENS – With a seemingly unstoppable Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan laying claims to his country’s possession of large swathes of the Aegean and East Mediterranean, Greece said its neighbor has no right to areas extending to the islands of Rhodes and Crete.
Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias told SKAI TV that Turkey is using a kind of brute force strategy to insist Greece has no continental shelf, which he said is disputed by many rulings, speaking just after Turkey’s Foreign Ministry disputed Greece’s sea sovereignty near the island of Kastellorizo in the southern Aegean near the Turkish coast.
“There are dozens of decisions by jurisdictional organs that maintain the precise opposite to Turkey,” Dendias said, noting Turkey doesn’t recognize the United Nations’ Law of the Sea yet cites the law to make its claims and “groundless things” in negotiations.
Greece is also angry over a deal that Turkey signed with Libya setting new maritime zones between them, saying it likely violates an embargo that the United Nations Security Council has imposed on the supply of arms to Libya.
He added that Fayez al-Sarraj, as Chairman of Libya’s Presidential Council, does not have the authority to sign agreements, and said Greece doubted whether Libya’s Parliament would even ratify the deal.
Dendias said his ruling New Democracy and the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA knew that Turkey and Libya were working on an understanding to try to seize more of the seas, with the UN doing nothing.
But he said when he approached his Libyan counterpart in September that country’s government said while discussions were then under way, the deal probably wouldn’t go ahead but now it has.
He added that, if the Libyan ambassador to Greece does not present authorities with the agreement by Dec. 6 that he would be expelled although it wasn’t said if there would be a break in relations between the countries.
As for a decision over the weekend by Greece and Egypt to speed up the delineation of their Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ’s,) Dendias said that wasn’t a reaction to what Turkey is doing.
“Greece does not link its diplomatic tactics to what Turkey does,” he said. “We have had 10 rounds (of talks) with Egypt on the delineation of its EEZ and in the context of examining developments we decided to speed up the process.”