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Turkey expects Greece to respect its interests and avoid a fait accompli

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoan said Turkey expects Greece to respect its rights and interests and avoid unilateral actions and attempted fait accompli, as he said Ankara wants the Aegean region to be a plaque rotating friendly relations.

The president was speaking at a symposium jointly organized by Dokuz Eyll and Bakent universities to mark the anniversary of the Great Offensive against the Greek occupation forces in 1922.

Noting that Ankara expects Athens to respect Turkey’s rights, Erdoan said he believes the two countries can find solutions based on justice, cooperation and good neighborly relations.

“Rather than passing on a bunch of problems to our children, we would like to make sure that we provide them with a more stable, peaceful and secure future,” said the president.

Addressing the importance of the Aegean Sea, Erdoan said the region has made headlines in humanitarian crises rather than being a symbol of cooperation and peace. He was referring to the migrant crisis, as thousands of irregular migrants try to cross the Aegean Sea to reach Europe.

“Turkey has been left alone in its extraordinary struggle to prevent irregular migration from Syria,” Erdoan said, adding that Greece had accelerated its maximalist policies in the region rather than contributing to Turkey’s efforts. He went on to reproach Athens for having wasted the “historic” opportunity to strengthen bilateral relations by cooperating with Ankara in the face of the migrant crisis.

Erdoan also noted that Turkey wants the Aegean Sea to be a zone of friendship and has always acted calmly in the face of Greek provocations, including the violation of the Aegean Islands’ demilitarization status and the issuance of Navtex.

We will find solutions based on equity, justice and cooperation with Greece, respecting neighborly ties, he added.

Defense Minister Hulusi Akar also spoke at the same event, saying Greece should not forget the heavy toll it paid a century ago and refrain from further adventures that would end in a disappointment.

Akar noted that the issue of irregular migration and illegal refoulements by the Greek Coast Guard has added to the already long list of issues with Greece, including disagreements over the continental shelf, airspace, violation of the demilitarized islands, violations of the rights of Turkey and the Rights of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean, restriction of the rights of Turks living in Western Thrace, support for terrorist groups, as well as activities of provocation.

He said the Greek authorities have insisted on using aggressive rhetoric as Turkey tries to find solutions to these problems within the framework of international law, logic and good neighborly relations.

Refoulements are considered contrary to international refugee protection agreements, which stipulate that people must not be expelled or returned to a country where their life and safety could be in danger because of their race, religion, nationality or affiliation. to a social or political group.

Turkey and Greece have been key transit points for migrants wishing to enter Europe, fleeing war and persecution to start new lives. Turkey has also accused Greece of large-scale refoulements and summary deportations without migrants having access to asylum procedures, in violation of international law. He also accuses the European Union of turning a blind eye to this blatant violation of human rights.

Since the discovery of large gas reserves in the region a decade ago, countries have embarked on new disputes over maritime borders as international law offers little recourse. The deepening rift between the two countries has surfaced with Turkey’s decision to step up energy exploration activities in the eastern Mediterranean and the deal Ankara made with the official Libyan government.

Turkish drilling procedures in the Eastern Mediterranean fall into two categories: licensed areas issued by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) to Turkey and licensed areas issued by Turkey to the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO), the Turkish national oil company.

The areas lie entirely within the Turkish continental shelf registered with the UN and in the permit licenses that the Turkish government has granted in previous years to the TPAO.

Turkey is a guarantor nation of the TRNC and has consistently challenged the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the eastern Mediterranean, claiming that the TRNC also has rights to the region’s resources.

In November 2019, Turkey and Libya signed a maritime delimitation agreement that provided a legal framework to prevent any fait accompli by states in the region. As a result, attempts by the Greek government to appropriate huge parts of the Libyan continental shelf, when a political crisis hit the North African country in 2011, were avoided.

The agreement also confirmed that Turkey and Libya are maritime neighbors. The delimitation starts from Fethiye-Marmaris-Ka on the southwest coast of Turkey and extends to the Derna-Tobruk-Bordia coast in Libya.

In response, Egypt and Greece signed an agreement in August 2020, designating an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the eastern Mediterranean between the two countries.

In January, Turkey and Greece launched the first direct exploratory talks in nearly five years to settle their disputes over sovereignty rights in the eastern Mediterranean.

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