image Photo: Reuters

Turkey asserts “rights” to EastMed

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay warned Greece and those that back its claims to the Eastern Mediterranean that his nation’s own right to the disputed waters is inviolable.

“The agreement between Turkey and Libya is the red line. Nobody can question that. And indeed, it is an area that belongs to Libya and Turkey. That doesn’t concern any other actor in the region – especially France,” he asserted during a webinar with the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) think-thank in Washington.

The Turkish Vice President then rejected Greece’s claim to the continental shelf off its Meis islands as “absurd.” Oktay maintained that the disputed shelf is “4000 thousand times bigger than the island itself,” which he maintained is about is 10-square kilometers in size. Meis is located just 2.5 kilomenters from mainland Turkey.

He stopped short, however, from mentioning Greek claims to Crete – which were evidently disregarded in Ankara’s agreement with the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) – and instead complained over Athen’s  deployment of troops to several islands near Turkey. “Those islands were supposed to be and are supposed to be -based upon the agreements- demilitarized. Because they are so close to Turkey. And now they are all militarized. Just a couple days back we saw Greeks bringing more military forces to these islands. So would the world expect us to sit and just watch it?” he asked.

Ankara’s top defense echelons are clearly troubled by Western Europe’s military support of Greece, particularly France. “There are those coming from thousands of kilometers away and bullying us here, claiming rights and acting as guardian angels [for Greece],” said Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, underscoring that, “We will not accept those attempts. They will have to leave if they ever come.”

He went on to insist that Turkey’s only concerns are for “international law, the goodwill in neighboring relations, court rulings, and practices so far.”

The Turkish Defense Minister further warned the United States over its intention to lift a decades-old arms embargo on Cyprus.  “Trying to disrupt balances will cause conflict not peace, and will bring deadlock not solutions,” said the Turkish Defense Minister.