Less than two weeks after the signing of the historic Greece-France strategic defence agreement, Turkish Defence Ministry Hulusi Akar declared that “none of these initiatives can move forward” and he lashed out against Greek politicians who have spoken out about Greece’s rights under the UN Convention on the Law of the sea.

“In Greece, certain politicians with aggressive rhetoric are attempting to escalate tensions instead of seeking solution for problems,” he said, asserting that such efforts are in vain.

“They [Greece] cannot defeat Turkey with such actions and rhetoric,” he said.

Blaming Greece for Ankara’s violations of the law of the sea

Regarding tensions with Greece in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, but also with Cyprus, Akar said, “We want problems with Greece to be resolved in the framework of international law and by finding political solutions through dialogue, in the framework of good neighbourly relations, so that the two peoples can live with security and prosperity, benefiting from the [region’s] wealth in a peaceful and calm environment.”

In fact, Turkey has for decades challenged Greece’s sovereign rights in the Aegean – with continual violations of Athens’ airspace and international waters – and more recently in the Eastern Mediterranean, where the EU, the US, and Russia have called Ankara to order over its military presence in Libya and its illegal delimitation of the two countries’ maritime Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), as well Turkey’s constant challenge to the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus in its EEZ.

Akar blasted Greek politicians who have stressed Ankara’s bellicose behaviour in the EastMed region, declaring that, “They do not comply with international law and good neighbourly relations.

Akar’s concern for Greece’s finances

The Turkish defence minister also slammed Greece’s recent agreement to buy three French Belharra frigates – which has caused great consternation in Ankara – declaring that Greek citizens should realise the burden that the procurement will place on the economy.

«The love of arms began in Greece – especially recently – which concluded agreements with the encouragement of certain countries.”

“Greece’s economic condition is well known and it has great debts. [The purchase of the frigates] will lead the economy into a worse situation by squandering money. Logical people in Greece should see this. None of these initiatives can go forward. We are extremely determined and capable as regards this issue,” he said.

‘Nautical Geo violating Turkey’s jurisdiction’

While Ankara has systematically harassed and blocked the Nautical Geo research vessel, which is to conduct research in the Mediterranean to plot the course of the EastMed pipeline, occupying a large swathe of Cyprus’ EEZ, Akar claimed that the ship is violating Turkey’s maritime jurisdiction.

“There are plans to conduct research east of Crete, southeast of Cyprus, violating our maritime jurisdiction. We have said that we shall never allow this. We followed through and we did not allow the ship to enter the said area. We are determined on this issue and we will not allow our right to be violated,” he warned.