Greek FM qualifies recent statements over possible cooperation with Turkey in east Med; says condition is int'l law

Friday, 22 March 2019 14:20
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Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos attempted to recover from an avalanche of opposition and media criticism in the country after his comments earlier this week - a day before he met with his Turkish counterpart in Antalya - that Turkey was entitled to participate in hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation in the eastern Mediterranean.

His unprecedented statements come amid continuing saber-rattling by Ankara to prevent the island republic of Cyprus, for instance, from exploiting resources in its own Exclusive Economic Zone, which official Turkey does not recognize. Ankara also does not recognize the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), instead calling for bilateral "negotiations" over issues such as the Aegean's continental shelf and territorial waters since the mid 1970s.

Katrougalos' exact statement was that Athens should recognize the rights of its neighbors, as long as these rights emanate from international law and UNCLOS, instead of demanding a "blind monopolistic position" in areas where it has interests.

Back in Athens, the Greek FM also commented on the latest irredentist quips by Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who more-or-less claimed much of the Black Sea, the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean as "Turkish waters", "Turkish seabed" and the latest pre-election slogan by the Erdogan establishment, i.e. the "blue homeland".

In response, Katrougalos told an Athens-area radio station that the Greek side has deflected Turkey's "revisionism" by employing trilateral alliances in the wider eastern Mediterranean.

At the same time, he made it clear that whatever possible economic cooperation with Turkey in the future is absolutely conditional on the full recognition of Greece's vested interests and rights, with the basis being international law.

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