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Disputing Turkey, Greece Says No Aegean “Gray Zones” Exist

The National Herald

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. (Turkish Foreign Ministry via AP, Pool)

ATHENS - Greece’s Foreign Ministry immediately rejected claims by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu who said there are “gray zones” in the Aegean as Turkey is moving to claim waters off Greek islands and in the Continental Shelf.

“The legal status of the Aegean and of (the Aegean) islands is clearly determined by international treaties and there is no room for dispute,” Greece’s Foreign Ministry said, adding that Turkey’s interpretation of the UN Law of the Sea is “unfounded” and “illegal.”

“Greece has chosen the path of international legality,” the ministry said,  urging Turkey to do the same, although Turkey doesn’t recognize the Law of the Sea unless invoking it in its favor against Greece and Cyprus, where Turkish ships are drilling for oil and gas.

In a televised interview on CNN Turk, Cavusoglu said, “There are islands whose sovereignty has not been established” either in the Treaty of Lausanne - which Turkey doesn’t recognize - or in the 1947 Paris Peace Treaty He said that’s why Turkey wants “exploratory talks to resolve these issues” and to avoid a repetition of a crisis like the one over the islets of Imia (known in Turkish as Kardak) and where the two countries nearly went.

Cavusoglu again said his country disputed Greek ownership of seas, after a Turkey-Libya deal divided them, claiming waters near major Greek islands including Crete and Rhodes.

Speaking to CNN Turk, he said that, “There are islands whose sovereignty has not been established” either in the Treaty of Lausanne or in the 1947 Paris Peace Treaty. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan doesn’t recognize the Lausanne treaty that set borders between the countries and openly covets the return of some Greek islands.

Cavusoglu said Turkey wants “exploratory talks to resolve these issues” and to avoid another incident such as happened in 1996 over the rocky, uninhabited islets of Imia where the two countries nearly went to war, both claiming the territory as theirs.

Asked about the Eastern Mediterranean pipeline deal signed by Cyprus, Greece and Israel to bring gas to the European Union he said that if those countries want to go across the Aegean that, “They will have to ask for our permission. Without Turkey’s approval, this project cannot happen.”