Ankara is trying to set its own terms, in view of the start of exploratory contacts between Greece and Turkey, once again calling for the demilitarization of the Aegean islands .
Athens maintains in any case that the only issue for dialogue with Turkey is the delimitation of maritime zones and nothing more.
In particular, after the meeting of the Turkish National Security Council, chaired by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and in the presence of the generals and the foreign and defense ministers, a statement was issued talking about the demilitarization of Greece’s Aegean islands, as reported yesterday by Greek City Times.
As SKAI’s correspondent in Turkey, Manolis Kostidis, explained, the National Security Council is a supreme body and this announcement shows that Ankara will raise the issue of demilitarization of islands on multiple occasions in the future.
“As of today, now there will be no retreat in the interests of the Turkish nation by sea, land and air. Countries acting in breach of international law and treaties are called upon to comply with common sense, in particular as regards the militarization of demilitarized islands,” the statement said.
Earlier, the Turkish president, in a meeting with party officials, said that Athens wants to create a Greek lake in the Aegean and added that such a thing would not be accepted.
According to Turkish media, Erdoğan also told his officials that dialogue is now a priority and a more moderate policy, repeating the mantras of:
“Turkey will not relinquish its rights in the Eastern Mediterranean.
“There are UN and EU resolutions.
“Greece, using the islands as an excuse, is there and trying to create a Greek lake, such a thing cannot be done.
“We will protect our rights.
“Our priority is to use all the possibilities of diplomacy.
“We will pursue a more moderate policy.
“However, in the Eastern Mediterranean, we will explain that we are right and we will do it on every occasion.”
This has become the usual mantra from Ankara that we have become accustomed to.
Last month, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis extended Greece’s territorial waters in the Ionian Sea from 6 to 12 nautical miles.
Mitsotakis said Greece would thereby exercise an “inalienable sovereign right” in line with Article 3 of the Convention on the Law of the Sea.
If Greece enacts international law and announces the extension of Greece’s territorial waters in the Aegean to 12 nautical miles, then the Aegean will truly become a Greek lake.
US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun urged “Turkey to cease provocative maritime operations and steps that are raising tensions in the region..”
Meanwhile, US Assistant Secretary Mike Pompeo will visit Thessaloniki and Souda with a double message for the role Greece can play in the Western Balkans and the Mediterranean.