Greece Again Says Turkey Provoking Trouble Over the Seas

In this Tuesday, July 9, 2019 photo, a helicopter flies over Turkey's drilling ship, 'Fatih' dispatched towards the eastern Mediterranean, near Cyprus. (Turkish Defence Ministry via AP, Pool)

ATHENS – Repeating what it has said incessantly to no avail, Greece’s Foreign Ministry said Greece is undercutting stability in the Aegean and East Mediterranean as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has moved to gain more control of the seas, disputing sovereignty.

“[Turkey] once more insists on not recognizing the Republic of Cyprus, which is a member of the EU and the UN, on not recognizing the sovereign rights of the Greek islands, (and) on blatantly violating the International Law of the Sea,” the ministry said.

That was in response to Turkey’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Feridun Sinirlioglu, presenting a document with the coordinates based on a deal Turkey signed with Libya, dividing the seas between them.

Greece has fiercely contested the legality of the agreement as Erdogan said under the deal he would send energy ships to drill off Crete as he has already done off Cyprus, with the UN doing nothing to stop him.

The European Union, afraid Erdogan will unleash on the bloc – through Greece – more refugees and migrants who went to Turkey fleeing war and strife, has issued only soft sanctions over the Cyprus drilling and tweeted support for Greece but not backed it up.

Turkey doesn’t recognize Cyprus, a member of the EU that Turkey has been trying to join since 2005, and bars its ships and planes. Turkey also doesn’t recognize the UN’s Law of the Sea but is now trying to invoke it to support the Libya deal.

The ministry said Greece will “continue to respect international law as the cornerstone of peace and stability across the world.”

“It continues to demand respect for the islands’ sovereign right to a continental shelf and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and to emphasize that illegal and invalid agreements do not produce any legal effect,” it said. All that has done nothing to stop Erdogan from doing what he wants, seeing no other stronger response.

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