As tensions flare up this week in the Eastern Mediterranean, Greece has condemned Turkey’s efforts to win support from the EU, UN and NATO through diplomatic rhetoric.
On September 1, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu wrote a letter to 25 EU members accusing Greece of engaging in “unlawful actions” and making “maximalist demands” in the Aegean, according to the Turkish state-run Anadolu News Agency.
Cavusoglu sent the letter to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, permanent members of the UN Security Council, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
According to unnamed sources, the letter claims there are problems in the Aegean Sea including the width of territorial waters and national airspace, the limitation of the continental shelf and territorial waters.
The letter also notes the “violation of the non-military status of the Eastern Aegean Islands.”
On Wednesday, Greek diplomatic sources told Kathimerini that the letter “repeats ad nauseam [Turkey’s] longstanding, groundless and illegal unilateral claims.”
“[The claims] contradict fundamental principles of international law, in particular the international law of the sea,” the sources said, calling the letter “a monumental distortion of the facts.”
The letter from Turkey’s foreign minister comes almost simultaneously with accusations by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Greece is occupying demilitarized islands in the Aegean Sea.
“Your occupying the islands does not bind us,” Erdogan said during a news conference. “When the time, the hour, comes, we will do what is necessary.”
It marks the first time that Erdogan has accused Greece of occupying the demilitarized islands rather than merely arming them — something which Athens denies.
The Turkish leader said his country’s forces could mobilize at any time they deem necessary.
“What I am telling is not a dream. If we say that we can come all of a sudden overnight, we can do so when the time comes, as I said,” Erdogan said in a statement tweeted by the Turkish Directorate of Communications.
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