Turkey renews war threat over Greek territorial sea dispute – POLITICO


ATHENS — Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Thursday threatened Greece with reprisals if Athens proceeds with an expansion of its territorial waters in the Aegean Sea, saying it would still be considered a casus belli justifying military action.

“Our position is clear, not 12 miles, we will not allow territorial waters to be extended even by a mile into the Aegean Sea,” Çavuşoğlu said during a year-end press briefing in Ankara, commenting on reports that Athens plans to expand territorial waters around the island of Crete.

“Do not fall into false heroism by trusting those who could support you. Do not look for adventurism,” he added. “This won’t end well for you!”

International maritime law allows Greece to extend its territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles. But in a 1995 parliamentary statement, Turkey said such an extension into the Aegean Sea would be considered a cause of war, as much of its coast would be deprived of access to the sea. The threat is still looming. force, Çavuşoğlu said.

“The Greek government conducts itself with international law and its national interest as the sole determinants,” Greek government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou said in a statement.

Despite being NATO allies, Athens and Ankara have been at odds for decades over a number of bilateral disputes, including maritime borders, overlapping claims to their continental shelves and the long-running dispute over Cyprus.

Turkey has stepped up its rhetoric against Greece in recent months, with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan even warning that a missile could hit the Greek capital unless “you stay calm”. Both countries will hold national elections by next summer.

In October, Greek Foreign Ministry officials told POLITICO that the technical work needed to extend territorial waters 12 nautical miles south and east of Crete could be ready within weeks. This means Athens could pull the trigger on the decision ahead of its July parliamentary elections.


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