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Greece Counters Turkey’s Claims in the Aegean to UN

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Turkey has repeatedly questioned the sovereignty of Kastelorizo, among other Greek islands. Credit: Mark Bradley Gregory/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

Greece presented a letter to the United Nations on Thursday which countered the claims Turkey made regarding the sovereignty of Greek islands in the Aegean to the UN in September of last year.

In the Turkish letter, the country claimed that the sovereignty of the Greek islands in the Aegean is “dependent upon demilitarization” by Greece.

“Greece rejects in their entirety all the arguments contained in Turkey’s letter of 30 September, which bear a distinct similarity to those contained in its previous letter of 13 July 2021, as legally, historically, and factually untenable,” the Greek response reads.

Letter affirms sovereignty of Greek islands after Turkey’s claims

“Any attempt to call into question Greece’s sovereignty over these islands on the unfounded premise that Greece allegedly violates its obligation to demilitarize them under the above-mentioned treaties, is contrary to the fundamental principle of international law regarding the stability of boundaries and titles of sovereignty,” the letter continues.

“All of the above Greek islands have the right to a territorial sea, an exclusive economic zone, and a continental shelf in accordance with article 121 (2) of the UNCLOS. Therefore, as the sovereignty of Greece over the said islands is legally undisputed, their entitlement to maritime zones and their effect on maritime delimitation has no connection whatsoever with the issue of their demilitarization,” it is maintained by the Greek position.

The letter ended on an optimistic tone, hopeful that the two neighboring countries could resolve their differences diplomatically.

The letter concludes by saying that: “Greece continues to firmly believe that the two countries can resolve their outstanding difference, namely the delimitation of their continental shelves and exclusive economic zones, in a spirit of good-neighborly relations and in accordance with international law. Greece calls upon Turkey to also commit to the peaceful settlement of this difference.”

The letter regarding the sovereignty of the Greek islands comes as tensions between Greece and Turkey are heightened.

On Monday, Erdogan said he has no intention of ever meeting with Mitsotakis again following the latter’s criticism of Turkey during his recent visit to the United States.

Greece responded on Tuesday by saying that it does not intend to be dragged into an escalation with Turkey.

On Wednesday, during his visit to Davos at the World Economic Forum, Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis vowed to defend his country’s sovereignty in the face of Turkey’s mounting revisionism.

In a discussion with President of the Forum Borge Brende, he sent a strong message to Turkey in the wake of recent statements by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Responding to a question regarding Erdogan’s reaction and relations with Turkey, Mitsotakis said: “…we are [neighbors with Turkey], we always need to talk, and we always want to keep channels of communication open. We are never going to be the ones who will not talk with our [neighbors].”

The Greek PM also added that: “On the other hand, if President Erdogan thinks that I will not defend the sovereignty and sovereign rights of Greece and I will not make the case to the international audience that Turkey is behaving as a revisionist power, then he’s wrong.”

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