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Turkey Furious With Arch-Rival Greece Over Maritime Jurisdiction Comments

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Relations between Greece and Turkey are again on the edge after the Greek Foreign Ministry issued a statement regarding Ankara’s maritime jurisdiction areas and drilling activities, which according to the Turkish officials is ‘misleading and unfortunate’. 

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Turkey and Greece have a long history of political conflict over the Aegean sea which dates back to 1923.

“Greece, with today’s statement, once again exhibits its unrealistic perceptions and rights-refusing attitudes regarding the problems in our region,” Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy said in a remark.

Aksoy said the Greek/Greek Cypriot side intentionally disregards the fact that Ankara has legal and sovereign rights in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea.

Asserting Turkey’s equal rights, he said the Turkish Cypriots are also the co-owner of the island and the resources nearby.  Attacking the” maximalist and uncompromising attitude of the Greek and Greek Cypriot duo”, Aksoy further added that it was a real menace to the peace and security in the Eastern Mediterranean.

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“The maritime jurisdiction area claims brought forward by Greece as if she was an archipelagic state, disregarding the principle of just and equitable delimitation, which is the primary rule in maritime boundary delimitation, are indeed the violation of international law.

The most striking exhibit of this, as referred to in our previous statements, is the island of Kastellorizo/Megisti,” Aksoy had said in a written statement.

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Aksoy also highlighted that Turkey will continue to focus on diplomacy and cooperation while “protecting with determination” its own rights, as well as the rights of Turkish Cypriots.

Greece-Turkey Dispute

Over the past two years, Greece has recorded many numbers of territorial and airspace invasions by Turkey in the Aegean.

Angelos Syrigos, a specialist in international law at Panteion University in Athens had earlier stated: “For the last 18 months, Turkey has toughened its rhetorics and backed that up with actions”. This results in the two countries always being in a state of dispute.

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In 2017, President Erdogan’s visit to Greece was a turning point in the Greek-Turkey relations.  Although it invited some disagreeable comments for both sides, it was the first time in 65 years that a Turkish head of state visited Athens.

Erdogan’s request to alter the Lausanne Treaty of 1923 was opposed by the Greek government.  The decision of Turkey to revisit the Treaty of 1923 portrayed its interest in more progressive revisionism of the Greek-Turkish status-quo.

Turkey-Greece Dispute Over The Aegean Sea

In 1923, both Athens and Ankara maintained territorial waters of three nautical miles in the Aegean Sea. Greece increased that to six nautical miles in 1936 and Turkey followed the move after almost 28 years in 1964.

In accordance with the international law of the sea, Greece intends to extend its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles. Considering the fact that Athens has many islands spread across the Aegean sea, if it extends its territorial water to 12 nautical miles,  it would end up controlling almost three-quarters of the Aegean. Turkey has threatened to go to war if that was to happen.

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Both nations are also opposed and engaged in a struggle over the position of their continental shelf, an area exceeding territorial waters where states relish the right to utilize undersea resources.

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