Turkish PM: Aegean tension would be avoided if Greece stopped considering sea as its own

21 May 2018
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Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim more-or-less confirmed that official Ankara still considers a so-called “theory of grey zones” in the Aegean as valid, claiming that “tension in the Aegean will be avoided if you (the Greek side) stop considering it as an entirely Greek sea.”

In an interview published in the Sunday weekly “Vima”, the Turkish premier also said it was irrational to expect “preferential treatment” for two Greek servicemen still held in Turkey on pre-trial detention, “given that they violated Turkish law”. “Pre-trial detention” in Turkish judicial terms has already translated into nearly three months in jail without specific charges being filed, and, more importantly, no trial date set.

On his part, the head of Turkey’s general staff chiefs, Gen. Hulusi Akar, also touched on Greek-Turkish relations, saying from Antalya that “we sincerely say that we desire good-neighborly relations, with respect to bilateral treaties, international law and maritime law in order to conduct our activities. But as members of the Turkish armed forces we believe that if duty calls in the Aegean, in the eastern Mediterranean, we will fulfill it for our country and nation without hesitation. No one should make a wrong calculation,” he said.

Turkey, a long-time EU candidate state, refuses to recognize, let alone ratify, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, alone among European littoral states. At the same time, Turkish diplomacy since the mid-1970s has favored bilateral “negotiations” over demands it repeatedly makes regarding the Aegean (airspace, territorial waters, continental shelf, and recently, sovereignty of islets and EEZ), instead of taking its claims to international tribunals or arbitration.

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