Greek PM says open to discussing maritime boundaries with Turkey: report

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Kyriakos Mitsotakis

While denouncing Turkish provocations in the east Mediterranean and the Aegean, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he’s still open to talking with Turkey about sea boundaries, The National Herald reported.

After Turkey signed a deal with Libya dividing the seas between them, claiming waters off Greek islands and planning to drill for oil and gas off Crete, Greece inked an agreement with Italy setting zones in the Ionian.

Despite tension over the Turkey-Libya deal that saw Turkey submit a map to the United Nations claiming sovereignty in waters it disputes, Mitsotakis told an economic form in the Greek capital that “Greece is always open to dialogue with Turkey to delimitate the maritime zones,” Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

“We can discuss [it] openly, and if we finally confirm that we cannot agree, there are always ways — refer the issue to the International Court [of Justice] in The Hague — to solve the problem, but always with absolute respect for international law,” he said according to the report.

There have been fears of an accidental conflict over the battle for the seas that has seen Turkey claim areas around Greece’s continental shelf and led Greece’s defense chief to say a military response was on the table if needed.

Mitsotakis defended the deal with Italy on maritime boundaries to establish an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) between the two countries, stressing it was valid while Turkey’s deal with Libya, unrecognized by any other country, was not.

 “If Turkey attempts to violate our sovereign rights, it will see a response from not only Greece but also Europe,” he said, although the European Union has shown no appetite to take on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and issued only weak sanctions over Turkish drilling off Cyprus.

“If Turkey is thinking about violating the sovereign rights of the Hellenic Republic, not only will it get a response from Greece, I am pretty sure it will get a response from Europe,” Mitsotakis said.

Mitsotakis said if Turkey instead resorts to gunboat diplomacy, “it will have serious consequences,” without clarifying what he meant and if that meant the Greek Navy would react to Turkish warships near Greek waters.

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