ATHENS – With Turkey having already suggested it, the International Court of Justice in The Hague could be the arbiter of who owns rights to the seas in the Aegean and East Mediterranean, Greek Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.
Turkey signed a deal with Libya dividing the seas between them and claiming rights off Greek islands, including Rhodes as well as Crete where Turkey said it would soon send energy ships to start drilling.
Greece said the deal is unlawful and both countries have talked about having the United Nations – which has shown no interest in getting involved – also intervening as tensions have risen along with fears of a conflict.
Mitsotakis, in an interview with weekly newspaper To Vima, said his intention is for Greece and Turkey to discuss their differences about maritime zones over the seas at a diplomatic and political level although neither worked with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“But we should say clearly that if we can’t find a solution then we should agree that the one difference that Greece recognizes (over maritime zones) must be judged in an international body like the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in Hague,” The Netherlands-based court.
Earlier in December, Cyprus petitioned the ICJ to safeguard its offshore mineral rights but got no response as the international community, apart from press releases backing Greece and Cyprus, has shown no political will to get in between Greece and Turkey or aid Cyprus.
Turkey has ships drilling in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ,) parts of which Turkey doesn’t recognize and as Erdogan has defied calls from the legitimate government to stop, with Turkey occupying the northern third since an unlawful 1974 invasion.
Turkey, which since 2005 has been trying to join the European Union – Cyprus is a member – doesn’t recognize Cyprus and bars its ships and planes and disputes the sovereignty of waters off the island at all.