Turkey said it would not give up its sovereign rights to seas and airspace near its coastline, including around the Greek island of Kastellorizo, despite the threat of sanctions by the European Union.
“No sanctions will ever make Turkey compromise”, the Foreign Ministry said on its Twitter account on Saturday. It was responding to comments by Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias in which Dendias complained about Turkey’s so-called expansionary policies.
— Turkish MFA (@MFATurkey) December 5, 2020
“Greece, as the spoiled child of Europe, aims to provoke European Union sanctions on Turkey based on its maximalist and illegitimate maritime boundary and airspace claims,” the ministry said. It called on Greece to engage in unconditional dialogue with Turkey, “sooner rather than later”.
Turkey has rights to waters within 10 nautical miles of its coastline, the ministry said.
The Turkish government is “seeking to develop a sphere of influence in the wider region to create a new Turkish Yalta,” Dendias told Greek newspaper Ta Nea, the Greek City Times reported on Monday.
“Turkey has become a clear threat to the stability of Europe, the eastern Mediterranean, the Arab world and the Caucasus,” he said.
Dendias said that Greece wanted long-standing good neighbourly relations with Turkey based on full respect for international law and that Athens was always open to constructive dialogue.
“Turkey must prove in practice that it endorses the idea of this dialogue. In October, the European Council left a window of opportunity for Turkey to comply, but it did just the opposite,” he said.
The European Council, made up of the political leaders of the EU’s sovereign states, rejected calls for sanctions against Turkey at a summit in October, giving it time to end “provocative actions” in the Mediterranean and enter talks with Greece.
Turkey has sent its seismic survey ships into waters claimed by Greece and Cyprus in the Mediterranean, including to near Kastellorizo, which lies just off Turkey’s coastline, to explore for hydrocarbons. It continued to do so following the EU summit meeting.
The EU’s leaders will meet on Thursday for another summit, during which they will look again at the possible sanctions.
Since October, Turkey has reiterated on several occasions that it is ready for talks with Greece on a wide range of issues affecting their relations. The EU’s October statement said that the two governments should enter negotiations on the “delimitation of the continental shelf and Exclusive Economic Zone of the two countries”.