Turkey urges Greece not to extend territorial waters to 12 miles in Aegean
SERKAN DEMİRTAŞ- Ankara
Turkey urged Greece not to make a miscalculated move by increasing its territorial waters from six to 12 nautical miles in the Aegean Sea, while reiterating the Turkish government's call for the neighboring country to resolve all differences through peaceful dialogue.
“I hope they won’t make a mistake and think of extending the territorial waters to 12 miles. This is a wrong calculation,” Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told Ankara bureau chiefs of the media outlets in a year-end press conference on January 8.
Turkey and Greece have a number of pending problems stemming from the Aegean Sea, including the latter’s claim that it has a right to extend its territorial waters from current 6 to 12 miles in line with the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Turkish Parliament declared in 1995 that unilateral action over territorial waters by Greece would constitute a casus belli, which means reason to go to war. Turkey is not a party to the UNCLOS.
“They should not try to test us,” Akar said, stressing that Greece should better make do with its existing six miles of territorial waters. The minister underlined that should Greece impose a 12-mile territorial waters in the Aegean Sea Turkey will have no room to sail towards the international waters without taking the consent of the Greek government.
“What kind of a mind is this? This is unjust and against the law,” Akar stated. On a question about Greek calls on Turkey for the withdrawal of the casus belli decision of the Parliament, Akar said “It’s a matter of national security.”
Despite the fact that Greece has expanded its territories more than four times since its foundation, it is still blaming Turkey for expansionist policies, Akar complained, “There is a status quo in the Aegean Sea. You have a 6-mile territorial waters, be grateful for it. What we say both sides should benefit from the richness and live in peace.”
'Greece should quit inflammatory rhetoric'
The Turkish minister has once again complained about the fact that some Greek politicians and officials continue their aggressive and provocative actions and rhetoric against Turkey. “They are in effort to depict us a threat against Turkey although it is them who is arming the demilitarized islands,” Akar stated.
Despite Greek provocative moves, Turkey is still seeking to resolve the problems through dialogue, Akar said, repeated Ankara’s call for the fourth round of talks between the two defense ministries in the Turkish capital. “The Greek minister has said they are evaluating our call and we are waiting for them,” he said.
Another important move that concerns Turkey is the fact that Greece is creating new alliances with some NATO countries at the expense of the deterioration of the allied principle of collective defense, Akar reminded.
“We are allies with Greece at NATO. They are making agreements despite this. An alliance within an alliance… This only weakens NATO. Why are you doing all these while there is NATO?” he asked.
Greece is continuing an intense armament by the procurement of expensive weapons and equipment, Akar said, and asked “Against whom is this?”
Turkey is preserving its good intention for the resolution of the problems with Greece but it should not be seen as a sign of weakness, the defense minister stated, vowing Turkey will not abandon its commitment to protecting its rights and interests in the Aegean and the Mediterranean Sea. Likewise, as a guarantor country, Turkey will also protect the rights of the Turkish Cypriots.
“Turkey is an efficient, powerful and trustworthy ally for its friends,” the minister recalled.