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Politics

Greece, Turkey Keep Playing Tit for Tat Over Rights to the Seas

ATHENS – Responding to repeated accusations from Turkey about whose provoking who over competing claims to the seas between them, Greece’s Foreign Ministry blamed Turkey for the new war of words.

“Greece remains committed to its respect for international law and to the protection of the country’s national interests,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexandros Papaioannou said in a statement, reported Kathimerini.

“It is paradoxical that a country that has repeatedly over the past few days issued a number of aggressive statements through the lips of government officials who are directly threatening Greece and who even question its territorial integrity, would accuse our country of (engaging in) ‘provocative rhetoric and activities’,” he said.

That came after Turkey said it was Greece that’s “pursuing provocative rhetoric and activities,” Turkey’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgiç said, reported the Turkish news site The Daily Hurriyet.

“This provocative rhetoric is neither compatible with good neighborly relations nor with the spirit of consultative talks we have relaunched with Greece,” he stated.

He accused Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias of “delusions” and creating “artificial alliances” with other countries – Greece is buying warships and fighter jets from France and has a mutual defense pact –  Bilgiç adding that, “Those countries which have self-confidence do not display such attitude.”

He said that it’s Greece which making “irrational and unrealistic allegations” against Turkey every day, and taking “escalatory actions and pursuing maximalist claims” both in the Aegean and the Mediterranean seas, which are against international law, he stated.

Turkey has for now backed away from earlier pursuits of energy around Greek islands – it’s already drilling off Cyprus in defiance of soft European Union sanctions – but plans to return, near Kastellorizo and off Crete.

Papaioannou said that “Greece will continue to build ties with neighboring and other countries in the context of respect for international law and good neighborly relations,” and urged Turkey to “respect these fundamental principles,” said Kathimerini.

“Greece makes no unlawful unilateral claim and it maintains its legal right to self-defense in line with the Charter of the United Nations,” he added, with Turkey wanting the UN to intervene in its favor.

Bilgiç said, “We reject Greece’s attempts to create a misleading perception and to label our country’s will to defend its legitimate rights and vital interests as a threat. If there is any threat in the region, it arises from the unilateral actions of Greece that increase the tension.”

Elaborating on his phone conversation with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, Dendias tweeted that he briefed her “on Turkey’s recent provocative statements,” the Turkish site said.

In a separate press gathering with his Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan al Saud, in Athens, Dendias described Turkey’s policies with Greece as “the epitome of irrationality,” Kathimerini said.

“It threatens Greece with war if we apply the inalienable right of expanding our territorial waters, as is explicitly foreseen by the International Law of the Sea,” Dendias said.

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