Turkish FM spokesman says Greek law including disputed Kardak region will have no legal effect

By Sena Guler, Anadolou Agency

Turkey will not accept any faits accompli on the geography of the Aegean Sea, said Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday.

Greece recently passed a law on 446 “Natura 2000” protected regions on land and at sea — including the disputed Kardak islets in the Aegean — that caused rising tensions between the two countries.

“In fact, our country has no objection to the general aims and content of the EU’s environmental programs such as Natura 2000,” ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said in a written statement.

Natura 2000 is a network of protected nature areas in EU territory.

Aksoy said the law is not the first time Greece has sought to exploit these programs in the Aegean through legislation.

“Greece, following the Kardak crisis in 1996, included the Kardak rocks in the Natura 2000 program, as well as some islands, islets and rocks in the Aegean Sea whose sovereignty is not ceded to Greece by international agreements,” Aksoy said.

He said Turkey set forth its position on the issue through statements from its Foreign Ministry and prime minister in 1998, plus several other statements, as well as written and verbal steps before the European Commission.

He urged Greece once again to act with common sense, adding that the EU should not become a “tool” of Greece’s “political exploitation efforts”.

“We take this opportunity to say that there is no doubt about the sovereignty of Turkey over Kardak,” Aksoy said, adding that the Greek law will have no legal effect on the existing Turkey-Greece disputes in the Aegean.

In February, a Turkish patrol boat rammed into a Greek Coast Guard patrol boat near the Kardak islets in the southeastern Aegean.

In January, the Turkish Coast Guard blocked Greece’s defense minister from approaching the same Turkish islets to lay a wreath there.

A decades-long dispute between Turkey and Greece over the uninhabited Aegean islets brought the two countries to the brink of an armed conflict in 1996.