ATHENS – Repeating what had become almost a mantra, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu again threatened Greece with war in their dispute over the seas if a 12-mile maritime boundary is set.
“Our position is clear, no 12 miles, we will not allow for territorial waters to be expanded by even a mile in the Aegean,” Çavuşoğlu told reporters in Ankara after reports Greece was mulling a doubling of its sea boundary around Crete.
Turkey, citing a maritime deal with Libya dividing the seas – which no other country accepts – wants to look for energy off Greece’s biggest island after earlier pulling back an energy research vessel from the island Kastellorizo.
“Don’t get into sham heroism by trusting those who might have your back. Don’t seek adventurism,” warned Çavuşoğlu. “It won’t end well for you!” he said, reported the news site POLITICO.
International maritime law allows Greece to extend its territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles but even the 6-mile limit cuts off Turkey’s coast from nearby Greek islands ceded under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne which Turkey doesn’t recognize unless invoking to its advantage.
In a 1995 parliamentary declaration, Turkey said an extension by Greece in the Aegean would be seen as a cause of war, because much of its coast would be deprived of access to the sea. The threat is still in effect, Çavuşoğlu said.
In Athens, New Democracy government spokesperson Giannis Oikonomou said in a statement said that Greece “conducts itself with international law and its national interest as its only determinants.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has said he might authorize an invasion, and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis are both facing re-election campaigns in 2023 and Greece suggested Erdogan is just blustering.
Erdogan also said Turkish missiles could hit Athens in 7.6 minutes, drawing a sharp rebuke from New Jersey US Sen. Robert Menendez, the Turkish threat adding to fears of a conflict.
In October, Greek Foreign Ministry officials told the news site that technical work needed to extend territorial waters to 12 nautical miles south and east of Crete could be ready quickly but the government has previously been said to be pondering the move without making it happen.