Turkey, Europe

'Greece ready to discuss maritime borders with Turkey'

Greek premier says Athens and Ankara can take issue to International Court of Justice if they fail to reach agreement

Mehmet Hatipoglu   | 12.06.2020
'Greece ready to discuss maritime borders with Turkey'

KOMOTINI, Greece

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed his readiness Thursday to discuss the delimitation of maritime zones with Turkey. 

“Greece is always open to a dialogue with Turkey to delimitate the maritime zones,” Mitsotakis told an economic forum in the capital Athens.

“We can discuss [it] openly, and if we finally confirm that we cannot agree, there are always ways to refer the issue to the International Court [of Justice] in The Hague on how to solve the problem, but always with absolute respect for international law,” he said.

Mitsotakis said it was not an era of gunboat diplomacy and such understandings belong to other centuries.

Noting that Ankara and Athens have “complex” relations, he mentioned Turkey’s maritime zone delimitation agreements with Libya, claiming they were “invalid.”

In November, Turkey and Libya signed a memorandum of understanding on the delimitation of maritime jurisdiction areas.

The pact asserted Turkey's rights in the Eastern Mediterranean in the face of unilateral drilling by the Greek Cypriot administration, clarifying that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) also has rights to the resources in the area.

Mitsotakis also defended an accord his country signed Tuesday with Italy on maritime boundaries to establish an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) between the two countries, stressing it was valid.

He said “if Turkey attempts to violate our sovereignty rights, it will see a response from not only Greece but also Europe.”

He added that it was not the way he wished to follow, but “if such thing happens, it will have serious consequences.”

Turkey is a guarantor nation for the TRNC and has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration's unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the TRNC also has rights to the resources in the area.

In 1974, following a coup aimed at the annexation of Cyprus by Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the TRNC was founded.

The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the Cyprus dispute, all ending in failure. The latest, held with the participation of the guarantor countries -- Turkey, Greece and the UK -- came to an end without any progress in 2017 in Switzerland.

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