“Greece has maximalist positions in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean“
While Greece is misleadingly blamed by Turkey over an academic map (“Seville Map), commissioned by the EU and not by Greece, Turkey has officially and fully embraced an expansionist concept that claims vast sections of the Aegean and Mediterranean seas, including Greek and Cypriot maritime zones, called the “Blue Homeland”. Once an idea supported only by marginal anti-Western Turkish navy officers, has now turned into a state nationalist aspiration fronted by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and has been reflected in relevant Turkish legislation Suffice to see the maps of what Turkey officially claims to belong to its jurisdiction to realize which side is the maximalist one.
MYTH No 2
“Turkey has the longest coastline in the Mediterranean“
Turkey deliberately ignores the existence of Greek islands whose coastline added to that of the mainland amounts for a total of 15,655 km as opposed to 8.368 km of the Turkish coastline’. In particular as regards the Mediterranean the Greek coastline extends to 12.200 km compared to 5.200 km of the Turkish line.
MYTH No 3
“Turkey advocates a just and equitable delimitation of maritime jurisdiction areas in the Eastern Mediterranean in accordance with international law“
In an effort to refashion geography Turkey signed recently a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Tripoli-based Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA). The MoU, which was concluded despite the fact that the two countries have no common maritime boundaries and was never endorsed by the Libyan Parliament as required, was condemned by many countries of the region and rejected also by the EU. It clearly violates the international law and more specifically the rules of the law of the sea, inter alia, by fully ignoring the presence of the Greek islands in the region in order to usurp their maritime zones.
On the contrary, Greece has signed in good faith maritime delimitation agreements with Italy (9.6.2020) and Egypt (6.8.2020) and has repeatedly stated its readiness to start or resume negotiations with the rest of its neighboring countries, including Turkey and Libya, aiming a concluding similar agreements, in full respect of the provisions of law of the sea.
MYTH No 4
“Turkey’s steadfast commitment to dialogue“
The unprecedented escalation of Turkish aggressive attitude, through the dispatch of Oruc Reis accompanied by a large number of Turkish military vessels in areas parts which fall within the Greek continental shelf even as low as 6.5 m distance from the Greek coast, is far from compatible with Ankara’s verbal declarations that the country is ready for dialogue On the one hand Turkey pretends asking for dialogue and on the other it tries to create faits accomplis in the areas which constitute the object of the dialogue itself. Despite repeated calls by the International community to comply with International legality and in striking contrast to the efforts made by Greece to de-escalate tension, Turkey chooses to continue its provocative behavior. Indeed
Turkeys’ words in support of dialogue are refuted by Its deeds.
MYTH No 5
“The Islands which lie on the wrong side of the median line between two mainlands cannot create maritime Jurisdiction areas beyond their territorial waters“
Islands, regardless of their size, are entitled to maritime zones (continental shelf /exclusive economic zone), an any other land territory, a rule clearly stipulated in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Article 121 (2), which reflects customary International law as confirmed by International Jurisprudence. This is also confirmed by international practice, including existing delimitation agreements the Eastern Mediterranean.
As to the island of Castellorizo; Turkey mentions that it is about 600km from mainland Greece, as if there is no other rook territory nearby, It also links Castellorizo to the case of Channel Islands. However and unlike the Channel Islands, Castellorizo is not an isolated island, far from the rook coastline. On the contrary, it constitutes part of the Dodecanese, 60 n.m. away from Rhodes, and forms an administrative, political and economic unity with the rest of the Dodecanese Islands
The Turkish position referring to the distance from the mainland and not from the nearest island (Rhodes) aims at conveniently isolating the insular complex of Castellorizo. Therefore the geographical context of the Greek Islands, makes the Turkish argument irrelevant. Furthermore, in the light of international jurisprudence, the reference to the “wrong side of the median line is falsely and deceitfully used.
MYTH No 6
“Islands cannot have a cut-off effect on the coastal projection“
Turkey makes a partial reading of international jurisprudence in order to substantiate its arbitrary claim that islands are deprived of their entitlements to continental shelf and EEZ. However, jurisprudence affirms that islands should not be cut-off from their projection to maritime areas. In the Nicaragua/Colombia case, used by Turkey in support of the cut-off argument, the ICJ has actually asserted exactly the opposite; that the adjustment of the provisional median line must not have the effect of cutting-off Colombia from the entitlements generated by its islands in the area
to the east of those islands.
MYTH No 7
“Legal terms indiscriminately used in support of Turkish positions i.e. “principle of equity”, “relevant factors and special circumstances”, “proportionality, non-encroachment, proximity and jurisprudence of the ICT“
In an effort to provide legal semblance to its claims regarding delimitation of maritime jurisdiction areas, Turkey is promoting its own interpretations of the rules of international law Through a surprising mixture of selective use, erroneous and arbitrary invocation of related jurisprudence, it misleadingly projects non-existent or non-applicable “principles”, aimed at distorting international jurisprudence and refashioning geography, in stark contradiction to UNCLOS.
In particular, the contention that “according to international law, coastal states are first and foremost required to enter into meaningful negotiations in order to reach an agreement on maritime boundaries based on the principle of equity”. by which the principle of equity is erroneously presented as a rule governing maritime delimitation. Yet first, it does not reflect the present state of jurisprudence and second, taking into account Turkey’s claims that islands are not entitled to maritime zones at all, is against any sense of rationality and equality.
Accordingly, another indicative example of the misleading reading of jurisprudence by Turkey is that proportionality, non-encroachment, proximity” are arbitrarily singled out and qualified as “factors” and “circumstances” o be taken into account and are invoked in the abstract and outside the context of a delimitation process. These factors, as well as the length and directions of the coasts cannot by themselves prevent a State from exercising its sovereign rights over its continental shelf, including the continental shelf generated by its islands.
MYTH No 8
“Greece has violated conventional obligations to demilitarize islands of the Aegean“
Turkey, in support of its overall demilitarization argument, deliberately mingles the different regimes ruling the eastern Aegean Islands, thus distorting the very elements of each particular case
In any case, it should be understandable to all that faced with imminent threats against its sovereignty deriving from (a) the establishment of the Aegean Army in the 70s with an offensive posture, (b) the invasion and occupation of part of Cyprus (@) Turkey’s numerous violations of Greek sovereignty over (often inhabited) Aegean islands, (d) the continuous concentration of Turkish war ships in the area, and (e) last but not least the casus belli proclaimed by the Turkish Parliament in case Greece extends her territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles, Greece has no
other option but to take all necessary steps to secure its ability to exercise its inalienable right to self-defense on the basis of article 51 of the UN Charter.
MYTH No 9
“Greece suppresses religious freedom in Thrace. the Muslim Minority is inadequately politically represented“
There are approx. 240 Mosques in Thrace in full service for its approx. 100.000 Muslim Greek citizens, the highest ratio of mosques per Muslim citizens in the EU and one of the highest even among Muslim states worldwide. Approx. 750 religious clerics freely administer their religious duties and offer classes of the Holy Quran in Mosques.
In almost all parliamentary elections held in Greece since 1927 minority candidates have been elected MPs. Currently, there are 3 minority MPs in the Parliament. There are also 3 minority Mayors in Thrace and hundreds of minority representatives sitting in regional and municipality organs. The minority “Friendship, Equality and Peace” Party freely functions, having 4 branches in Thrace and recently participated in EU parliamentary elections Lastly, Greece’s electoral system with a 3% threshold for political parties to enter Parliament makes their representation much more feasible, compared to the high threshold of 10% imposed by Turkey, which is practically unreachable even by medium-size parties.
At the same time, numbers related to the realities on the other side of the Aegean, namely the Greek-orthodox minority in Istanbul, Imbros and Tenedos, speak a completely different language that of a historic community recognized as minority by the Lausanne Treaty, nearing extinction.
MYTH No 10
“Turkey is in favor of good neighborly relations“
Turkish actions in violation of international law in neighbouring Syria, Iraq. Greece and Cyprus, as well as Libya, and most recently its involvement in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict speak for themselves. It’s evident that Turkish aggressiveness does not aim Greece only. Its neo-Ottoman ambitions, promoted through revisionism, endanger peace in the wider region and serve as a stepping stone for the resurgence of extremists and fundamentalists.