ICAO rejects Turkey's claim and confirms Greece's Search-and-Rescue Jurisdiction over the Aegean

Turkey's illegal Search and Rescue boundary claim over Greece.

Despite Turkey's provocations against Greece, there is no change in the current limits and responsibilities for search and rescue operations (SAR) in Athens, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) said.

ICAO Secretary General Fang Liu, in her reply letter to Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias regarding the recently issued Turkish Regulation on the Limits and Responsibilities for Search and Rescue Operations (SAR) in Greek territory, confirmed there has been no change in the boundaries and responsibilities of SAR Athens, reaffirming once again the law is with Greece.

In the letter, Liu also points out that no proposal has been submitted by the Turkish side to modify these limits and that changes can only be made if there is an agreement from all the countries in the region, including Greece.

Last month, the Turkish Coast Guard attempted to expand its Search and Rescue Operations boundaries to cover a lot of the Aegean, including over many islands, publishing a map of its boundary.

Turkey's illegal Search and Rescue boundary claim over Greece.
Turkey's illegal Search and Rescue boundary claim over Greece.

In a statement last month, the Greek Foreign Ministry said, "The Turkish search and rescue region which is arbitrarily defined in the new Turkish law, like the one defined in the Turkish law of 1988, is illegal to the extent that it overlaps areas of Greek sovereignty and jurisdiction, thus producing no legal effect. In addition, it is not based on operational criteria and does not serve the purpose of protecting human life."

The Foreign Ministry concluded that "It is clear from this latest move, which is purely politically motivated, that Turkey has no qualms about causing confusion and thereby endangering human lives. This move adds to a long list of arbitrary and illegal Turkish claims in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean – claims that are responsible for the unprecedented escalation in the recent period. Turkish actions will once again clash with international legality, to which Turkey must eventually reconcile itself."

At the same time, Turkey continues its provocative rhetoric, with Defense Minister Hulusi Akar declaring that "60 ships of the Turkish fleet are on standby."

Speaking at the military academy in Ankara yesterday, Akar urged his students to delve even deeper into the NAVTEX issue, "a new policy of sovereignty now being pursued in the Eastern Mediterranean".

Greece Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar
Turkey's so-called Defense Minister Hulusi Akar.

He stressed that the Turkish fleet and aircraft are on standby to defend the country's rights.

"On land, at sea, in the air, our aircraft are ready to defend our rights," he said.

"There is a law of the sea, there is international law. If you try to limit a country with 1,870 kilometers of coastline to your own borders and say 'everything is mine', then there will be a problem," he said.

"Let Greece come to talk, to meet. Through dialogue, through negotiations, solutions will emerge with rational and smart ways of acting and will be accepted," he said as Turkish warships continue to violate Greek and Cypriot continental shelves.