Greece has sent a strong rebuke to Turkey over its questioning of Greek island sovereignty in a letter to the United Nations, which has been made public only now.
The letter, sent by the country’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Aikaterini Boura, complains about and challenges Turkey’s Permanent Mission claims that questioned Greek sovereign rights in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Athens accuses Ankara of trying to impede Greece from agreeing a maritime delimitation with other states. The official challenged the Turkish claim that the Greek islands in the maritime area in question are not entitled to their own continental shelf and exclusive economic zones. This runs counter to the international law of the sea, Greece argues.
The letter argues that Turkish challenges to the delimitation of the continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean are unfounded and an attempt to interfere with Greece’s right to move ahead with agreements with other countries.
The letter was sent few months ago but only made public now:
“With reference to the letter of the Permanent Representative of Turkey dated 28 April 2016 addressed to the Secretary-General (A/70/855-S/2016/406, 2 May 2016), I have the honour to state the following:
The aforementioned letter contains unsubstantiated, unfounded and abusive allegations that totally disregard the sovereign rights of other States, including Greece, in the maritime area of Eastern Mediterranean west of meridian 32° 16´ 18´´ E. Such allegations go well beyond the rules of international law, by denying the entitlement of Greek islands to maritime zones, contrary to international law of the sea.
Greece wishes to reiterate that it has ipso facto and ab initio sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the above area on the basis of the relevant provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982, customary international law, as well as of its national legislation. This position has been registered on numerous occasions with the United Nations (notes verbales dated 24.2.2005, see Law of the Sea Bulletin, vol. 57, p. 129; No. 974/8.5.2012, see Law of the Sea Bulletin, vol. 79, p. 14; and No. 389/20.2.2013, see Law of the Sea Bulletin, vol. 81, p. 23), and has also been communicated bilaterally to Turkey (notes verbales No. 187/AS 2207/24.7.2009,
No. 187/AS 2648/15.11.2011, No. 187/1066/30.4.2012 and No. 156.3/1675/12.7.2012).
Furthermore, the Turkish allegation referring to the delimitation agreements in the Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea is totally misleading and arbitrary, as it aims at interfering with the rights of Greece to effect delimitation of its maritime areas by agreement with third States on the basis of international law, without prejudice to the sovereign rights of third States. Greece’s firm policy is to settle any outstanding issue with its neighbours in good faith and in accordance with international law.
Greece, therefore, refutes in their entirety the Turkish allegations contained in the above letter, also expressed in the Turkish note verbale dated 12 March 2013, and calls upon the Government of Turkey to respect the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of all the States in the said maritime area in accordance with international law.
I would be grateful if you would have the present letter circulated as a document of the General Assembly under agenda items 44 and 79 (a) and of the Security Council, and published in the next Law of the Sea Bulletin.’’