Turkey on Wednesday announced a new NAVTEX in the Aegean Sea's international waters in retaliation for Greece's recent NAVTEX announcement that violated the two countries' bilateral agreements.
After Greece announced military training in the international waters of the Aegean Sea during the tourism season, contrary to the Athens Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with Turkey, Turkey also started exercises in the international waters of the Aegean Sea with the navigation announcements (NAVTEX) dated 22 June within the framework of reciprocity. A NAVTEX is a maritime communications system that allows ships to inform other vessels about their presence in an area, as well as other information.
According to the information received from security sources, with the Athens MoU signed between Turkey and Greece in 1988 it was decided not to carry out exercises in the international waters of the Aegean Sea and not to declare a military training area during the busy summer tourism season between June 15 and September 15.
Taking into account the moratorium period established by the MoU, Turkey did not declare an area in international waters in the Aegean Sea between June 15 and September 15 during the planning of its 2021 operations-training activities.
Greece, on the other hand, did not comply with the agreement and declared a training/practice area for this year, including the period determined by the moratorium. Despite Turkey's respectful attitude and diplomatic initiatives to the moratorium, Greece did not make any changes in the areas it had declared in order to comply with the moratorium.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu recently said that Greece must halt its provocations in order for relations to grow and to avoid further escalation. The bilateral ties between the two neighbors have become tense due to conflicts concerning drilling rights and maritime borders in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Addressing reporters during the last day of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum, Çavuşoğlu stated that there was a gentleman's agreement not to hold any exercises in the Aegean during the summer tourism season. "Greece is now declaring NAVTEX.," he said. "We had an agreement not to hold NAVTEX and exercises on national days as well. Greece broke this as well. They should stop with these provocations."
"We need to give up provocative steps and provocation," Çavuşoğlu continued. "I know that they are trying to satisfy their own people because there is a lot of pressure on them. We want to turn the dialogue we started into concrete steps. We are sincere and determined."
Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected the maritime boundary claims of Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, stressing that these excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.
Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed that Ankara is in favor of resolving all outstanding problems in the region through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue and negotiation. Turkey has also criticized the EU’s stance on the Eastern Mediterranean conflict, calling on the bloc to adopt a fair attitude regarding the dispute and give up favoring Greece under the pretext of EU solidarity.
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