The long-standing disputes between Greece and Turkey and Athens’ aspirations of how to resolve them were set out in a comment by former UK Ambassador to Greece and Anglo-Hellenic League chairman John Kittmer.
In a commentary titled “Tension in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean: What Does Greece Want?” and published Wednesday on the website of the British think tank RUSI, Kittmer explains that Greece’s position “is simple and, since the return of democracy in 1974, consistent”.
He goes on to explain how Athens wants stability in the Aegean Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean and emphasizes the international legal order.
“The Greeks have reacted with concern to the nationalist rhetoric emanating from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his circles: the grossly vengeful comments of Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay are just the latest examples. To take Erdogan’s statements literally, the Treaty of Lausanne itself is now called into question. This should trigger a general alarm, beyond the Greek coasts, ”he said.
Presenting the current stalemate in the Eastern Mediterranean, he said Greece wants a negotiation with Turkey, but a negotiation in which both sides have previously agreed to allow the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to arbitrate in the event that the negotiations would end in an impasse.
As he explains:
“Arbitration will surely be necessary: although Greece has compromised in its partial delimitation of the EEZ border with Egypt, it is difficult to imagine that Greek or Turkish politicians would make the necessary compromises for an agreement between them. .
The court’s jurisprudence suggests that it will decide the issue in a way that does not give either party everything they want. Given Turkey’s rejection of the jurisdiction of the ICJ, prior agreement to go to arbitration is essential (the disavowal of the ICJ’s jurisdiction in the Greece case in 1976 proves this).
Furthermore, although some NATO members find it surprising, Greece does not want negotiations to begin as Turkish threats continue – whether in the form of increasingly abusive rhetoric from Ankara or of his attempts to create alternative facts at sea, by sending his investigative vessel, Oruç Reis, and accompanying frigates to probe the waters claimed by Turkey.
“The important point is not that Brussels should approve every square kilometer of EEZ claimed by Greece, but that it should fully support Greece’s determination to settle things according to the norms and processes of international law,” he explains.
“Now that Turkey’s EU membership has become a pipe dream, forward-thinking voices in Athens are calling for a new strategic relationship between the EU and Turkey – one that is not simply defined by interests mercantiles from Northern Europe. Both migration and security must be present. An active realignment of Greek positions with those of President Macron will continue. So far, Ankara has not backed down, although the return to the port of Oruc Reis may be a good sign. With the US elections underway, the time may be on Greece’s side, ”he concludes.
The rest of the commentary can be found on the RUSI website.
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