Turkey is determined to protect its rights arising from international law in the region it has declared the “Blue Homeland”. In this context, the message “Turkey will consider this a reason for war” was sent to Greece, which plans to increase the territorial waters in the Aegean Sea to 12 nautical miles.
It was alleged that Greece was preparing to expand its territorial waters to 12 miles south and west of Crete. If this provocative step that Greece brings to the agenda from time to time is taken, what will it mean for Turkey and how will it affect the balances in the Aegean Sea?
The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea gives countries the right to limit the width of their territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles.
The territorial seas of Turkey and Greece in the Aegean Sea are currently 6 nautical miles wide.
The continental shelf is defined as the natural extension of the land that makes up a country under the sea and extends up to 350 nautical miles.
While demarcating the continental shelf between countries with adjacent or opposite coasts, the principle of “fairness” must be followed.
The country has sovereign rights over the continental shelf to explore and exploit natural resources.
The exclusive economic zone includes both the seabed and the water body of the coastal state.
The length of the exclusive economic zone cannot exceed 200 nautical miles.
Once again, the principle of “fairness” must be followed in the demarcation of the exclusive economic zone between countries with adjacent and opposite coasts.
Greece’s weapon of chaos
So what is the source of the crisis in the Aegean Sea, what does Greece want and what does Turkey oppose?
Greece increased its territorial sea, which was set at 3 miles in Lausanne in 1936, to 6 nautical miles. Because of the positive climate that prevailed in Turkish-Greek relations at that time, Turkey did not object to this decision.
However, after the Cyprus problem in 1964 and Greece’s arming of islands near the Anatolian coast, Turkey increased its territorial waters to 6 nautical miles.
The reason for the war
After the Cyprus peace process in 1974, Greece attempted to increase its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles. On the other hand, Turkey announced in 1976 that it would consider this step a reason for war.
In the following years, this request from Greece continued to appear from time to time.
Athens match in France and the United States
In the news on TRT HaberThe history of the Aegean Project, which Greece has been trying to establish for nearly 100 years, is told.
Greece’s attempts to expand its territorial waters and airspace in the Aegean Sea at Turkey’s expense date back to 1931. Greece, whose territorial waters were 3 nautical miles (5.55 km) at the time, declared its airspace as 10 nautical miles (18.52 km) from one side.
Although Turkey and Greece did not define the maritime borders in the Aegean Sea with an agreement, the applicable jurisdictions of the two parties will be implemented as 6 nautical miles.
However, Greece continued its attempts to expand its borders in the Aegean Sea and the eastern Mediterranean, against the agreements of Lausanne 1923 and Paris 1947. Not only did it try to expand its borders, but it also militarized the islands of the Aegean Sea, which were supposed to be demilitarized since the 1960s.
The clamor of “the status quo of the islands is indisputable, and Turkey is trying to change the status quo of the islands” is cited as a reason for the Athens administration, which accuses Turkey of modification, that is, of trying to change. The current state of the borders, the violation of written agreements and the arming of the islands, received a response from France and the United States, which have interests in the energy basins of the region.
‘Turkey’s demand for justice can be ignored’
According to Mehmet Kanji, given the current situation in international circumstances and developments such as the arming of Greece by the United States and France, it is doubtful that a fair result can be obtained if an application is submitted to the Court of Justice in The Hague. .
Considering Armenia’s 36-year occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh despite UN resolutions and how Azerbaijan’s claim to justice through the Minsk Group was laid out in the process, it does not seem possible to hope for alternatives such as the Hague Court of Justice in today’s circumstances.
How does the decision affect Turkey’s position in the Aegean Sea?
Increasing the territorial sea to 12 nautical miles will disproportionately change the balance of interests in the Aegean Sea at the expense of Turkey.
Currently, due to the presence of many islands, the territorial waters of Greece make up 40% of the Aegean Sea.
If territorial waters were increased to 12 nautical miles, that rate would rise to 70 percent.
In this case, the volume of the open sea will decrease from 51% to 19%, while Turkey’s territorial waters will remain less than 10% of the Aegean Sea.
According to Kanji, the insistence of the Athens administration on 12 nautical miles is part of an attempt to deprive Turkey of resources by squeezing Turkey into a narrow maritime area, not only in the Aegean Sea but also in the eastern Mediterranean.
Greece’s efforts to prevent Turkey’s exit from the eastern Mediterranean began in 2010 with the discovery of rich deposits of natural gas around the island of Cyprus.
Athena needs to wake up from the fairy tale
Although Athens tried to cooperate with different countries, the steps Turkey took to normalize its relations with Israel, Egypt and Syria caused Greece’s disappointment.
Greece realizes that it has lost its opportunity to develop an initiative against Turkey in the Mediterranean, and is now trying to create an atmosphere of conflict and attract Western countries to the Aegean Sea by provoking Turkey with its habits from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
However, with the real steps it has taken in foreign policy, Turkey is telling Athens that it needs to wake up from the fairy tale.
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