In a thinly-veiled swipe at fellow NATO member nation Turkey, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken sent a message to Ankara that any use of force in resolving maritime disputes will be swiftly condemned.
French Foreign Ministers Jean-Yves Le Drian attending the UN Security Council meeting on Monday, agreed with Blinken on the need to implement and adhere to the rules of international law.
The meeting they attended, called “Maintaining International Peace and Security at Sea,” featured talks on the ongoing need to implement and adhere to the rules of International Law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The US Secretary of State said in his remarks after the meeting that “The international community has long benefited from maritime order based on international law as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which sets out the legal framework for all ocean and maritime activities.
“Seas Become Theaters of Constant Confrontation”
“The repeated urgings of the United States to all states are to comply with their claims in accordance with international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“We condemn actions to resolve maritime disputes through the use of force, as this practice is contrary to basic principles of the UN Charter, such as the peaceful settlement of disputes and the sovereign equality of UN member states.
“States that ignore or attempt to redraw the maritime or land borders of other states undermine key United Nations principles.
“The final point is that states have worked for decades to create an environment of stability, maritime order and security based on the rules of the international system. This was the result of a commonly accepted recognition that it is in the interest of peoples and nations for governments to accept certain parameters of their actions, instead of living in a world where the strong count for nothing and the least strong feel threatened and forced.”
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian agreed with Blinken, adding that “The security of the maritime areas is based on the observance of the International Law. Without respect for international law, the seas become theaters of constant confrontation. The sea must not be turned into a field of conflict between states.”
Turkey Foments Maritime Disputes by Redrawing Map of Mediterranean, “Blue Homeland” Claims
Both these strongly-worded positions reflect maritime law as it is understood by Greece and the manner in which it responds to confrontations in the Mediterranean as propounded by Greece’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Dendias.
In 2019, Turkey and Libya jointly agreed on a supposed maritime border between the two nations which completely ignored Greek territory in the Mediterranean, redrawing the charts to show that Greece had no sovereignty over its islands there.
On his visit to Libya in April of this year, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Prime Minister of Greece, called on Libya to scrap the illegal 2019 maritime boundaries agreement with Turkey.
Mitsotakis said in a joint press briefing with Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibeh in Tripoli that for Greece “it is very important, the annulment of illegal documents.
“They were presented as supposedly transnational agreements but have no legal effect, as expressly stated by the European Council.”
Athens is fiercely opposed to the deal between Ankara and Tripoli, which claims much of the Mediterranean for energy exploration and as an Exclusive Economic Zone, conflicting with international law and the claims by Greece, Cyprus and Egypt.
The 2019 maritime agreement had immediately been roundly condemned by the United States.
Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar declared in February that his country is determined to defend its rights to what it calls the “Blue Homeland,” referring to the Aegean by a name on a fanciful map first drawn up in 2020 by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In what appears to be another jab from Greece’s neighbor to the east after a year of almost never-ending incursions onto Greek waters and airspace, the Defense Minister invoked an expansionist doctrine which claims Turkish control over the eastern Aegean and the northern Mediterranean.
Referring to the Aegean as the “Sea of islands,” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated in an address to his AKP Party earlier that week in Istanbul that no one should be concerned about Turkish presence from the Black Sea to the Eastern Mediterranean.