Pavlopou­los re­jects claims of ‘gray zones’

Greek pres­i­dent says Turk­ish moves also a threat to EU sovereignty

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Re­spond­ing to a spike in Turk­ish provo­ca­tions and in­cen­di­ary com­ments, Greek Pres­i­dent Prokopis Pavlopou­los re­it­er­ated yes­ter­day that there are no “gray zones” in the Aegean Sea, adding that any claims from Ankara pose a threat not just to Greek sovereignty, but also to that of the Euro­pean Union.

Pavlopou­los was speak­ing dur­ing a visit to the south­east­ern Aegean is­land of Rhodes for events to com­mem­o­rate the an­nex­a­tion of the Dode­canese chain of is­lands to Greece. The is­lands were ceded to Greece in full sovereignty by the Paris Peace Treaty be­tween Italy and the Al­lies in April 1947.

“In the Dode­canese re­gion there can, in terms of in­ter­na­tional law, be no ‘gray zones’ re­gard­ing the ex­tent and con­tent of Greek and Euro­pean sovereignty,” Pavlopou­los said, adding that Greece main­tained “a self-ev­i­dent right” to de­fend the ter­ri­tory against any out- side threat. The pres­i­dent also re­jected Turk­ish claims on the de­mil­i­ta­riza­tion of the Dode­canese, say­ing that Greece was ex­er­cis­ing its right to le­git­i­mate de­fense in light of Turkey’s 1974 in­va­sion of Cyprus and the re­cent spate of Turk­ish provo­ca­tions.

He said that Turkey’s stand­off­ish be­hav­ior also rep­re­sents a chal­lenge to the in­tegrity of EU bor­ders, stress­ing that “Greece has been, and will re­main, an in­te­gral and fun­da­men­tal part of the Euro­pean struc­ture.”

Yes­ter­day, a pair of Turk­ish F16 fighter jets broke off from a larger for­ma­tion be­fore en­gag­ing into a mock dog fight with two Greek F-16s that had taken off from the air­port of Souda, on Crete, east of Rhodes. The air space vi­o­la­tions came as Turkey’s Cesme hy­dro­graphic and oceano­graphic ves­sel sailed be­tween Mt Athos and Lim­nos is­land.

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