ATHENS – After Turkey kept straits to The Black Sea open for Russian warships during the invasion of Ukraine, Greece called for an emergency meeting of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) about merchant ships and crews.
That includes the Sea of Azov, Russia being allowed unfettered access to continue its invasion although Turkey is a member of NATO but has refused to denounce the military operation, also trying to appease President Vladimir Putin.
Greek Shipping and Island Policy Minister Yiannis Plakiotakis spoke with IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim to urge him to convene the council as soon as possible, said Kathimerini, with concern over ships using the seas.
A statement by the Shipping Ministry said Greece was one of several countries requesting the meeting, following an initiative by the French Presidency of the EU Council, after Russia dispatched naval units to both seas.
The United States and Australia joined in asking for the IMO to meet although it was unclear what that would accomplish or have any effect on Russia continuing to use the sea routes.
Ukraine shut its ports to maritime trade on Feb. 25 as Russia made its move and will not let ships loading or unloading to sail, locking them in, and there have been four reported attacks on merchant ships in The Black Sea.
since February 25 and will not allow ships that were in the process of loading or unloading to sail.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey was studying Ukaine’s request but said Russia had the right under the 1936 Montreux Convention to return ships to their home base, to the Black Sea
Ukraine asked Turkey to block Russian warships from passing through the Dardanelles and Bosphorus Straits which lead to the Black Sea and Russian forces landed at Ukraine’s Black and Azov Sea ports.
If Turkey decided after a legal process to accept Ukraine’s request and close the straits to Russian warships, he said, they would only be prevented from travelling in the other direction, away from their home base into the Mediterranean.
“If countries involved in the war make a request to return their vessels to their bases, that needs to be allowed,” the Hurriyet newspaper quoted Cavusoglu as saying about it.