Maritime claims of EU member states that violate legitimate rights of third countries cannot be portrayed as EU external borders, Çağatay Erciyes, acting director general at the Turkish Foreign Ministry, said on Saturday, adding that Turkey is determined to continue to protect its own and Turkish Cypriots' rights. Erciyes described Greece and Greek Cypriots' maritime claims as "maximalist" and said they are based on the entitlement of islands to the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf (CS). "Entitlement & Delimitation are not the same thing. Islands may get zero or reduced EEZ/CS if their presence distorts equitable delimitation. This is a fundamental international law principle," Erciyes wrote on Twitter.
"Final maritime boundaries can only be determined through agreements (not violating 3rd parties' possible boundaries) or through litigation. Overlapping maritime claims prevail in the absence of a settlement," Erciyes added.
The Turkish official added: "Maritime claims of EU members violating the legitimate rights of 3rd countries cannot be portrayed as the external borders of the EU."
"That's indeed the gross violation of international law. Turkey is determined to continue to protect its own & Turkish Cypriots' CS/EEZ rights," he added.
In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus' annexation by Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) was founded.
The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the dispute, all ending in failure. The latest one, held with the participation of the guarantor countries
– Turkey, Greece and the U.K. – ended in 2017 in Switzerland. Turkey dispatched its drilling vessel Fatih earlier this month from the southern port of Antalya with three support vessels and a frigate to its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) west of the island of Cyprus to launch the drilling of a second well in the Eastern Mediterranean. The vessel will continue operations until Sept. 3.
Turkey's first seismic vessel, the Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa, bought from Norway in 2013, has been exploring in the Mediterranean since April 2017.
ANKARA SLAMS GREECE
OVER AGEAN SEA DISPUTE
On the other hand, in a statement in response to a question regarding the allegations of the Greek ministers of National Defense and Foreign Affairs on NATO's stance regarding the Aegean issues, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday Greece has attempted to abuse international organizations, including NATO, and draw them into Aegean disputes to justify its national positions.
The Foreign Ministry said the Eastern Aegean islands were put under demilitarized status by virtue of several international agreements, including the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923 and the Treaty of Paris of 1947.
"These Treaties prohibit the militarization of the Eastern Aegean islands. They are in force, and thus, are legally binding for Greece, imposing legal responsibilities on this country," the statement said. "While the Aegean disputes between Greece and Turkey are actually being addressed through bilateral channels, the attempts of Greece, our neighbor and Ally, to abuse international organizations, including NATO, and draw them into these disputes with the aim of justifying her national positions are not new," it added. The Foreign Ministry said it was agreed that the military vessels operating in the Aegean Sea under the NATO Activity would refrain from visiting the Aegean islands under demilitarized status according to international law, including with the aim of refueling or port visits. It added that these vessels might only operate in the Aegean Sea on the basis of diplomatic clearances issued concurrently by Turkey and Greece for specified areas at sea.
"That being the case, Greece's claims that the NATO activity in the Aegean Sea has rendered Turkey's legitimate position that is fully in accordance with international law 'de facto invalid' are in vain," the statement stressed.
It said that the NATO activity is being carried out to support the efforts to stem irregular migration due to humanitarian concerns, with Turkey's consent. "On this occasion, we once again renew our call to Greece to put an end to its policy of disregarding international law, historical facts and Turkey's legitimate rights and interests and to forgo its efforts to create de facto situations," the statement added.