Turkey accuses Greece for abusing NATO mission
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson accused Greece on May 12 of attempting to abuse NATO’s mission for migrants on the Aegean Sea aimed at drawing international organizations into the dispute on sovereignty rights in the region.
“Greece’s claims that the NATO activity in the Aegean Sea has rendered Turkey’s legitimate position that is fully in accordance with international law “de facto invalid” are in vain,” the ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy said in a written statement.
The NATO Activity is being carried out to support the efforts to stem irregular migration due to humanitarian concerns, upon Turkey’s consent, he noted. He was referring to a NATO mission for preventing illegal migration in the Aegean Sea, whose rules of engagement are determined on concerns of Turkey as some islands in the Aegean Sea are demilitarized by international treaties.
Recalling that the Aegean disputes between Greece and Turkey are being addressed through bilateral channels, the attempts of Greece to “abuse” international organizations, including NATO, and draw them into these disputes with the aim of justifying her national positions are not new, he said.
“The responses of the Greek Ministers of National Defense and Foreign Affairs to a question posed by a member of the Greek Parliament constitutes yet another example for such futile attempts on the part of Greece,” Aksoy said.
The Eastern Aegean islands were put under demilitarized status by virtue of several international agreements, including the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923 and the Treaty of Paris of 1947, Aksoy said, noting that these treaties prohibit the militarization of the Eastern Aegean islands.
“They are in force, and thus, are legally binding for Greece, imposing legal responsibilities on this country,” he said.
NATO civilian and military authorities are bound by the alliance’s policy of refraining from involvement in bilateral disputes between allies and have faithfully been acting on this basis, and this is also the case for the NATO Activity in the Aegean Sea, Aksoy said.
He recalled that at the time when this activity was initiated, all allies, including Greece, agreed that the NATO Activity in the Aegean Sea would be carried out in a manner that does not prejudice NATO allies’ national policies.
“In line with this collective understanding, it was agreed that the military vessels operating in the Aegean Sea under the NATO Activity would refrain from visiting the Aegean islands under demilitarized status according to international law, including with the aim of refueling or port visits. Moreover, these vessels may only operate in the Aegean Sea on the basis of diplomatic clearances issued concurrently by Turkey and Greece for specified areas at sea,” the spokesperson stated.
“On this occasion, we once again renew our call to Greece to put an end to its policy of disregarding international law, historical facts and Turkey’s legitimate rights and interests, and to forgo its efforts to create de facto situations,” he said calling on Greece to solve bilateral issues through mutually constructive approaches and common endeavors.