Sunday, March 6, 2016
Turkey Disputes Greece’s Sovereignty Over Aegean Islands
By Philip Chrysopoulos
Mar 6, 2016
NATOshipsTurkey is making territorial claims over a group of islets in the Aegean Sea, according to a document submitted to NATO, says a Kathimerini report.
The document was submitted to NATO’s Military Committee last month, after the agreement that NATO ships would be patrolling Aegean waters between Greece and Turkey in order to monitor the activity of refugee smugglers leaving from the Turkish coasts for the nearby Greek islands.
According to a confidential document obtained by Kathimerini and cited in the newspaper’s Sunday edition, Turkey is claiming the sovereignty of a string of islets in the Aegean and part of its air space.
The 17-point document was submitted, February 15, during negotiations between Greece and Turkey over the terms of deployment of a German-led NATO patrol in the Aegean to stem the flow of refugees.
This is the first time Turkey disputes Greek sovereignty via an official NATO document. According to the document, Turkey’s demands from the Alliance included replacing the term “Aegean air space” with “NATO air space” and refraining from using the Greek names of several islets “that may have been seen as the promotion of national interest” – an apparent reference to 16 small Greek islands that are repeatedly disputed by Ankara.
Turkey also disputes Greece’s 10-mile national air space and demands permission to enter the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) without submitting flight plans, as Turkish war planes often do. It further requests that NATO ships do not dock at ports of the Dodecanese islands in the southeast Aegean and claimed supervision of almost half the Aegean Sea for search and rescue operations.
The terms of the NATO patrol in the Aegean were agreed on by both countries, February 25. The agreement stipulated that Greece and Turkey would not operate in each other’s territorial waters and air space.