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Ankara slams Athens’ ‘futile, self-destructive effort’ to shape policies based on anti-Türkiye sentiment

Greece's attempt to shape its domestic and foreign policies based on anti-Türkiye sentiment is a "futile and self-destructive effort," a Turkish Foreign Ministry official said on Wednesday.

In a statement, Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesman Tanju Bilgic said that Greece aims to cover up its "latest scandal" in Libya with the memorandum of understanding (MoU) it signed in Cairo in the fields of aeronautics and maritime search and rescue.

Last week, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias refused to get off the plane during an aborted visit to the capital Tripoli, flouting diplomatic protocol.

Bilgic emphasized that maritime search and rescue regions were service areas for saving lives. "According to international law, these areas are not areas of sovereignty," he stressed.

Noting that the rules for search and rescue areas were set by the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR Convention), adopted at a Conference in Hamburg in 1979, the Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman said countries were obliged to cooperate with each other in cases where service areas overlap, according to the accord.

Bilgic said the Aegean and Mediterranean search and rescue regions that Türkiye and Greece declared and notified to the International Maritime Organization overlap with each other.

Noting that Athens has always refrained from cooperating with Ankara on search and rescue efforts in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, Bilgic said Greece also rejected past proposals that Türkiye had made to resolve the matter.

"This stems from the unlawful Greek position to regard search and rescue service regions as areas of sovereignty and thus to make a connection accordingly to further its maximalist maritime boundary claims," he added.

Such an approach by Greece is "illegal as it is in contravention of the 1979 Hamburg Convention," noted the Turkish Foreign Ministry official.

Bilgic said that while it was thus "not possible" to attribute any other meaning to the Greece-Egypt agreement, it was a "grave contradiction" that a country putting innocent lives at risk would sign a deal on search and rescue. He was referring to the illegal pushbacks Greece has practiced in the Aegean Sea, "in violation of international law."

Ankara and global rights groups have repeatedly condemned Greece's illegal practice of pushing back asylum seekers, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable migrants, including women and children.

The main motive behind Athens' signing of the deal with Egypt was "to whitewash these facts and the latest scandal it caused in Libya," Bilgic said. "The attempt to shape Greece's domestic and foreign policy within the framework of anti-Türkiye sentiment is a futile and only self-destructive effort."

"Türkiye will continue to resolutely protect both its own rights and the rights of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus by increasing cooperation and coordination with all key stakeholders in the Eastern Mediterranean and beyond. Probably, this is the reason for the recent hysteria in Greece."

Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long dispute between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts to achieve a comprehensive settlement.

Source: Anadolu Agency