New Turkish book claims Greek islands but ignores international law

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A new book on Turkish claims on Greek maritime space in the Aegean Sea has been released in Turkey. It was authored by the recently retired Turkish Admiral Cihat Yayci, who is considered the "architect" of the agreement with the Muslim Brotherhood government Libya to steal Greek maritime space.

The book, titled “Requirements of Greece. The problems in the Aegean with questions and answers" was published by the Supreme Foundation of Culture, Language and History of Turkey.

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Cihat Yayci argues that "the geopolitical imbalance in the Aegean is shaped by Greece's policy in the light of the Great Idea" and that the problems will be resolved if Turkey claims the sovereignty of the islands, islets and rocky islands.

The Great Idea, or known in Greek as the Megali Idea, was a guiding police of Greece's foreign policy to liberate Greek lands held by the Turks. This policy ended with the Greco-Turkish war in 1922. However, despite nearly 100 years since the end of the Megali Idea, Turkey still remains paranoid by it and believe without proof that Greece has plans to annex lands in Anatolia and eastern Thrace.

The Turkish Admiral, who until recently was a close adviser of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Mediterranean issues, reiterates the well-known falsity by Turkey that in islands and islets in the Aegean were not acquired by Greece under international law and that they are Turkish territory, since Turkey successor country of the Ottoman Empire.

"It is not possible for the geographical formations, which are quite large islands, to be considered a simple rocky problem," he said, adding that "our country has made unilateral moves in the Aegean Sea."

Turkey always claims that Greece violates international law regarding the Aegean. Yet, Turkey is only one of 15 countries in the whole world who has not signed the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Andrew Jacovides, former Cypriot Ambassador to the United Nations, United States and Germany, explains in a Cyprus Mail says Article 121 of the Charter, titled Regime of Islands, expressly provides in Paragraph 2 that “the territorial sea, contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf of an island are determined in accordance with the provisions of the Convention applicable to other land territory."

This negates the Turkish position that these zones of maritime jurisdiction should be determined by criteria such as size, population, geomorphology, etc. (Legislative History, Article 121, published by the UN Secretariat).

Similarly, Articles 122 and 123, “Enclosed or Semi-enclosed Seas”, negate the Turkish proposal that special rules should apply in such areas in terms of maritime delimitation and jurisdiction. On the basis of these and the other provisions of the Convention, Cyprus and the vast majority of states, as well as the European Union, signed and ratified UNCLOS III, thereby lending to its provisions the force of customary law.

Although Turkey claims it is operating under international law which it claims Greek islands and waters, one must wonder why it one of the very countries to not sign the United Nations Charter Law of the Sea.