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Greek FM: US ‘ideal partner’ for persuading Turkey to follow UNCLOS

Greece’s foreign minister this week opined that the “ideal partner” to persuade official Turkey to accept the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is the United States.

Greek FM Nikos Dendias made the statement during his online participation at a forum by the Atlantic Council think-tank, entitled “EU-US Future”.

Dendias said such a development, i.e. Turkey’s “about face”, would allow Athens and Ankara to more easily resolve differences plaguing bilateral relations for decades, while stressing that Greece and Washington have a common view regarding UNCLOS.

In citing an example, Dendias underlined that the US is actively opposing Chinese claims in the South China Sea vis-a-vis the Philippines.  

Greece, an EU and NATO member-state, has both signed and ratified UNCLOS, as have all other EU states. The United States has not ratified UNCLOS but follows its provisions in a de facto manner.

Conversely, Turkey, a perennial EU candidate-state, has not signed nor ratified UNCLOS, and while repeatedly citing “international law” and “customary law” it ignores its most prominent provisions regarding territorial waters, as well as the impact of islands on delimitating continental shelf and maritime Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ).

The most outrageous example is a standing threat of war (casus belli) approved by the Turkish grand assembly in the mid-1990s in case Greece legally extends its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles. Another more recent provocation was the signing of an EEZ delimitation agreement with the acting Libyan government, which “erased” all island masses between the unconnected coasts of Turkey and Libya.