Greece responds to Turkish demands that the islands be demilitarized

Diplomatic sources from Greece’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to a statement made by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs that accused Athens of provocative commitments in large areas of the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean.

“The NOTAM concerning the planned Trident exercise is the same areas in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean used for years,” the ministry said.

“The areas are blocked separately and not all at the same time, only for specific days and hours and not for the entire period between January 4-February 26, 2021 as incorrectly and misleadingly stated in the announcement by the Turkish Foreign Minister,” diplomatic sources clarified.

They added: “The specific areas which are committed, as well as the time period in which the commitment is valid are clear from the NOTAM.”

Regarding the accusations of the alleged demilitarization of the Aegean islands, it is noted that Greece’s positions is known and therefore the Turkish objections are rejected in their entirety which only have the objective of creating further tensions.

According to the same sources, “Greece wants a constructive dialogue based on international law, including the Law of the Sea on the only issue that exists between Greece and Turkey, delimitation of the maritime zones in the Aegean and the East Mediterranean.”

Finally, “it is pointed out for the umpteenth time that Greece seeks de-escalation and calls on Turkey to refrain from unilateral illegal and provocative statements and actions.”

What the Turkish Foreign Minister claims

Turkey says Greece is the one that raises tensions in the region.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said: “There is no change in Turkey’s stance on dialogue and communication channels, but we see that Greece continues to take provocative steps in the region, which are increasing tensions.”

Hami Aksoy Turkey
Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hami Aksoy.

The most recent example is that Greece with a NOTAM declared 15 areas for exercises, including islands that should be demilitarized, and by closing large areas of the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean from January 4 to February 26, 2021.”

The statement from the Turkish Foreign Ministry concluded by calling on Athens to “act responsibly” and contribute to Turkey’s efforts to “strengthen peace and stability in the region”.

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