Dendias to Ankara and Borrell: Tolerance for provocations ends, consider sanctions on Turkish fisheries

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias

The question of fishing rights "is not just an issue between countries, it is primarily a European issue and I considered that we have an obligation to inform the EU of a practice... which violates the European acquis," Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said in a statement on Thursday regarding his letter to the high representative of EU, Josep Borrell, on the illegal activity of Turkish fishing vessels.

"Firstly, I described in the letter to Josep Borell a real situation," Dendias said, noting that this was not just a issue affecting Greece and Turkey alone but "a practice, which creates problems in Greece, but hurts the European environment as a whole and violates the European acquis."

Also, stressing the importance of the letter, he said that it can work as a signal that tolerance of certain things is coming to an end.

According to diplomatic sources cited by Proto Thema, in his letter, Dendias was referring to the incident that took place on January 5, "in which a patrol boat of the Coast Guard, while performing an ordered service to identify three Turkish fishing boats that were fishing in the sea area southeast of Farmakonisi, within Greek territorial waters, was harassed by a Turkish vessel."

"This repeated Turkish practice creates a dangerous security environment and increases the possibility of an 'accident', which could be used as a tool by Ankara in order to escalate the tension between Greece and Turkey," said Dendias according to the same sources.

In addition, the letter recorded "the avoidance of cooperation and the often aggressive attitude on the part of Turkish fishermen, not only against Coast Guard vessels, but also against Greek fishing vessels, an action directed against the legal fishing activities of Greek fishermen."

"It's easy to see," noted Dendias, "what the consequences of such a development will be for the wider region, but also for Euro-Turkish relations."

The Greek foreign minister then referred to the aggressive rhetoric of Turkish officials "who on an almost daily basis launch, unprovoked, threats against Greece".

"Combined with the incidents of questioning national sovereignty in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, it is clear that Turkey, with Illegal Poaching and IUU fishing, is adding one more means to implement its revisionist policy and challenge status quo of the region," the letter said.

On the occasion of the episode in question, according to the same information, Dendias stressed the need, "if Turkey continues the above practice, to take measures that will impose economic costs on Turkey and requests the implementation of Regulation (1005/2008) on combating IUU fishing, which provides that if a third country does not comply, it is designated as 'non-cooperating' and fishery products can be banned from the EU market."

Such a reaction on the part of the EU, according to Dendias, "will send a resounding message to Ankara and demonstrate in practice the solidarity of the EU towards a member state, which on an almost daily basis faces the questioning of its sovereignty and threats of war."

It is noted that yesterday Dendias sent the letter to the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Policy and Security Policy on Wednesday, and communicated it to the Vice-President of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, as well as to the Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevicius.

Visit to the Ivory Coast

Nikos Dendias is making the first visit of a Greek foreign minister to the Ivory Coast, as part of a three-day tour of West Africa.

In his statements before the working lunch with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Ivory Coast, Kandia Camara in Abidjan, the Greek Foreign Minister also sent a new message to Turkey as the Ivory Coast noted that it is a member of the group of friends of the UN Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)

"For Greece, International Law and the Law of the Sea are the holy gospel, the holy book of our foreign policy. And we are happy to discuss and cooperate with countries and leaders who have the same approach as us," explained the Greek foreign minister.

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