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Kastellorizo: What’s in the mind of Turkish FM Davutoglu?

That Ankara keeps an eye on the islet of Kastellorizo is not new. But Turkey’s insistence that the tiny island  should be left out of the bilateral exploratory talks is something I don’t like at all. Should we see it as an Ankara’s attempt to create a new ‘grey zone’? Not similarly to the  the Imia dispute but more or less with the same effect?.

Days after Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu dropped his Kastellorizo-bombshell in an interview to daily Kathimerini, he reiterated today in Athens the same point of view. And thus during a joint press conference with his Greek counterpart Dimitris Droutsas.

Davutoglu made just a small additional explanation, saying that Kastellorizo is a Greek island and that’s not disputable. He said, he was referring to Kastellorizo’s geographic position.  On its part the Greek side made it very clear: The condinental shelf delineation will be from Thrace down to Kastellorizo.

So what’s the fuzz and buzz about it? What’s in Davutoglu’s mind when it comes to Kastellorizo?

Sneaky-tricky Davutoglu has more the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in mind than annexing the small Greek island.

According to the Law of the Sea, an EEZ provides a country with exclusive economic, research rights and sovereignty over artificial facilities built within a maritime area.

Wikipedia explains in its characteristic popularized manner the issue:

Under the law of the sea, an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is a seazone over which a state has special rights over the exploration and use of marine resources. It stretches from the seaward edge of the state’s territorial sea out to 200 nautical miles from its coast. In casual usage, the term may include the territorial sea and even the continental shelf beyond the 200 mile limit.

Greece – Turkey

Greece has not yet claimed an exclusive economic zone, although it is entitled to do so, as per UNCLOS 1982 as well as customary international law. This had led to direct threat by Turkey of casus belli if Greece was to declare her exclusive economic zone, although Greece restrained from any kind of declaration so far.

Turkey’s declaration of casus belli is not related to the EEZ issue. Turkey claims that the Aegean Sea’s status as a semi-closed sea affords it a special nature (unlike other semi-closed seas as the Adriatic or even fully enclosed seas as the Black Sea). Moreover, Turkey is not among the signatories of UNCLOS which allows countries to expand the width of their territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles (22 km). Even though Turkey is a persistent objector to the relevant article of UNCLOS, it has expanded its own territorial waters in the Black Sea to 12 nautical miles (22 km). And moreover, in 1995 just after Greek parliament ratifications of UNCLOS (as every signatory state was entitled) , Turkey declared that if Greece expands the width of her territorial waters over 6 nautical miles (11 km), Turkey would conceive this action as a containment attempt and a direct offense to her sovereignty and thus threatened Greece with a war (casus belli). (see more details on EEZ here )

It has been a clear mistake, neglectance – call it whatever you want – that the Greek side haven’t claimed yet its Exclusive Economic Zone.

What Davutoglu wants to say is: Keep the Kastellorizo but when it comes to EEZ the maritime area around  is Turkish. Does he really wants to split the Aegean waters like a modern Moses?

In Athens, Ahmet Davutoglu held talks with his Greek counterpart Dimitris  Droutsas and Prime Minister George Papandreou. 

Greece and Turkey have been holding unofficial exploratory talks since quite some time. The issues under discussion  among other the delineation of the contintenal shelf in the Aegean Sea. A marked condinental shelf will determine the countries’  exploration and exploitation right. That is search for natural gas and oil, a potential that made quite some frontlines in the Greek media since last spring.

Kastellorizo belong to the group of the Dodekannese islands.

After concluded his contacts in Athens, Turkish FM Ahmet Davutoglu will tour northeastern Greece and have private meetings and talks with the Muslim minority there.

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