February 20, 2013

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Is Greece Threatened By Turkey Now That France Supports Its EEZ?

The Greek government is very concerned over a possible attack or Turkish provocation now that France has formally voiced its support to Greece in our country's struggle to proclaim its EEZ. As such, the Greek Pentagon has been instructed to closely monitor Ankara's movements. 

Military and diplomatic sources are also voicing concern, and note that Turkey will not remain idle following the statements of Antonis Samaras on Tuesday who said that "Greece has the right to proclaim its EEZ and it will do so under the right conditions when required." And certainly the announcement by French President Francois Hollande that followed noting France's participation in the exploitation of Greek mineral deposits is something that is not going to go unnoticed by Ankara either.

Turkey already displayed its displeasure when both state leaders were publically discussing Greece's EEZ and the exploitation and exploration of hydrocarbons. More exactly, as Hollande and Samaras addressed reporters over Greece's universal right to move ahead with this new energy venture, two alerts were broadcasted on the website of Turkey's General Staff claiming that two violations were being performed by Greek crafts in Turkish airspace and territorial waters.

According to a report on the military news site defencenet, the first post said:
"A Greek C-27J aircraft violated our airspace for 1 minute southwest of the Datca peninsula."
While the second post claimed:
"A Greek coastguard vessel has violated our territorial waters to the west of the Didim province."
Military sources in Athens characterize the posts as "warning shots" from Turkey, and note that while these alerts were being made, Ankara was conducting military and naval exercises in the southern Aegean!
"Increased tension in the Aegean is very probable," one senior officer told defencenet, and from what the website said this does not exclude a heated "incident".
Also, the fact that a Turkish helicopter entered Greek airspace later on in the evening (or specifically in the area around  Kalymnos) cannot be considered as coincidental. And neither can the fact that since the statements were made, Ankara has been barking up a storm.

In such an environment, Antonis Samaras has requested that he be updated continuously on Turkey's movements.

After all, he sent a clear message to Turkey clearly noting that Greece will excersize its universal right in accordance with the international accords that we have already signed! (And the reason we say this is because Turkey has not signed the law of the sea accord.) At the same time Samaras also said that Greek hydrocarbon deposits "are rich resources for Europe." In short, the Greek Premier flatly let Ankara know that Greece has the support and backing of Europe to declare its EEZ and finally proceed with the exploitation of its hydrocarbon reserves. (Editor - 40 years too late... but nonetheless, better late than never!)

In two weeks, Samaras is going to pay an official visit to Turkey and surely these issues will begin to be discussed on a diplomatic level. Nonetheless, it is going to be very interesting to see what is going to unfold in the days and weeks to come, since Turkey is planning to sail a new research vessel in the Aegean in March to conduct seismic surveys!

Stay tuned Frappers!

Background to this story according to Wikipedia:

Territorial waters give the littoral state full control over air navigation in the airspace above, and partial control over shipping, although foreign ships (both civil and military) are normally guaranteed innocent passage through them. The standard width of territorial waters that countries are customarily entitled to has steadily increased in the course of the 20th century: from initially 3 nautical miles (5.6 km) at the beginning of the century, to 6 nautical miles (11 km), and currently 12 nautical miles (22 km).

The current value has been enshrined in treaty law by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982 (Art.3). In the Aegean the territorial waters claimed by both sides are still at 6 miles. The possibility of an extension to 12 miles has fuelled Turkish concerns over a possible disproportionate increase in Greek-controlled space. Turkey has refused to become a member of the convention and does not consider itself bound by it. Turkey considers the convention as res inter alios acta, i.e. a treaty that can only be binding to the signing parties but not to others.

Greece, which is a party to the convention, has stated that it reserves the right to apply this rule and extend its waters to 12 miles at some point in the future, although it has never actually attempted to do so. It holds that the 12 mile rule is not only treaty law but also customary law, as per the wide consensus established among the international community. Against this, Turkey argues that the special geographical properties of the Aegean Sea make a strict application of the 12 mile rule in this case illicit in the interest of equity.

Turkey has itself applied the customary 12 mile limit to its coasts outside the Aegean.

Tensions over the 12 mile question ran highest between the two countries in the early 1990s, when the Law of the Sea was going to come into force. On June 9, 1995, the Turkish parliament officially declared that unilateral action by Greece would constitute a casus belli, i.e. reason to go to war. This declaration has been condemned by Greece as a violation of the Charter of the United Nations, which forbids "the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state".

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