Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, seeing the European Union back away from sanctions for his plans to drill for energy off Greek islands, said the Aegean should be called the Sea of Islands, stepping up Turkey’s claims to the waters.
That came as teams from Greece and Turkey were set to meet in Athens for a second session of a resumed 61st round of exploratory talks, the first in four years after the first 60 went nowhere.
The first session in Constantinople was a four-hour chit-chat that was non-binding with no minutes or record kept in an apparent symbolic sitdown designed to do little else.
Turkey wants other issues on the agenda, demanding Greece remove troops from islands near Turkey but Greece is insisting on keeping the talks centered only on rights to the seas, with Turkey not recognizing the United Nations Law of the Sea unless invoking to its advantage.
He said Greece was provoking Turkey, not mentioning he has repeatedly sent fighter jets to violate Greek airspace and warships into Greek waters and said he will go ahead with drilling no matter the outcome of the talks, the EU saying it would consider sanctions in a March session if there’s no solution.
A retired Turkish Admiral,Cihat Yayci, one of the main architects of the Blue Homeland doctrine in which Turkey claims much of the East Mediterranean had earlier said the Aegean’s name should be changed, Turkey already calling it Ege.
There should be no “concerns about Turkey’s presence from the eastern Mediterranean to the Black Sea, as well as in the Aegean, which old-timers called the Sea of Islands,” Erdogan told a congress of his AKP party, said Kathimerini.
“We have a presence there with all our strength, with all our possibilities and we will continue to be there,” he said, adding that Turkey will also secure all its rights “in all the waters that surround us.”
Erdogan went on to say that Turkey will strengthen its ties “with its brothers in the geographical areas within our cultural reach,” from the Balkans to the Caucasus and from Central Asia to Africa.
Referring to Turkey driving Greeks out of Anatolia and Smyrna in 1922 during the Greek-Turkish War, he said that, “We spoiled their dreams then and we will do the same with similar dreams on our southeastern borders.”
He also reportedly attacked the EU for being “in bed with terrorist organizations,” after complaining the EU was partial to Greece, a member of the bloc Turkey has fruitlessly been trying to join since 2005, prospects now lessening.