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Commission asks Turkey to respect international agreements

The European Union remains committed to good neighbourly relations and respect of international agreements, EU spokesperson Maja Kocijancic told EURACTIV.com following tensions between Athens and Ankara on the expansion of territorial waters in the Aegean.

Reportedly, “respect of international agreements” refers to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, under which such expansion is possible, while the reference to “good neighbourly relations” is a rebuke to Turkish positions considering any extension a casus belli.

Turkey is not a member of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The fresh spat in Greece-Turkey relations was caused by a statement made by Greece’s former foreign affairs chief Nikos Kotzias, who said Athens stood ready to extend its territorial waters in the Aegean from 6 to 12 nautical miles.

The 12 nautical miles is the maximum limit permitted by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Athens has repeatedly stated that such a move is in full accordance with international law.

The Aegean dispute has been a matter of tension between Ankara and Athens since the 1990s as such a move would give Greece sufficient room to take advantage of its marine resources.

In 1995, the Turkish parliament declared that any unilateral action by Greece to extend its territorial waters is a casus belli: a reason for war.