Antonis Antoniadis, who served as the Chief of the Hellenic Navy General Staff between 2002 and 2005, ruled out scenarios of military engagement between Turkey and Greece, criticizing the mainstream public mood after the maritime deal struck between Ankara and Tripoli-based Libyan government on Nov. 27, 2019.
“Turkey is a regional superpower. They have the second strongest military after the United States in NATO. Their geostrategic importance is significant. Turkey also holds the tap of migrant flow. [Turkish] President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks with U.S. President [Donald] Trump and Russian leader [Vladimir] Putin regularly,” he said in an interview with Greek news portal Militarie.Antoniadis argued that Greece’s claims of a six-mile-long maritime territory and 10-mile-long airspace in the Aegean is not consistent with the international law, pointing to the uniqueness of the Aegean geography.
He also said that Turkish jets are not obliged to inform the Greek authorities when flying over the Greek islands according to the International Civil Aviation Organization rules, defining such incidents as “innocent passage.”
“For example, when a Turkish fighter jet flies over Rhodes, it is not true to take that as Turkey disputing Rhodes being a Greek island. I don’t think that Turkey has an aim of invading our islands in its formal defense policy,” said Antoniadis.
“Greek people falsely suppose that the whole of the Aegean is the Hellenic Sea. Thus, when a Turkish warship approaches a Greek island as close as 6.5 miles, ‘What is it doing here?’ they ask. A substantial part of inconsistencies in Greece’s foreign and defense policies arise from ignorance.”
He also said that Turkey just wants to share the natural sources of the Aegean.
“We must negotiate with Turkey. But if we assume that we can sit on the negotiation table with Turkey under equal terms we can’t get any success. If we think that we can get everything we want with the negotiations, we are wrong. We should evaluate what we can get in return of renouncing which of our official claims. For instance, we can demand wider continental shelf by promising Turkey not to claim for wider maritime territory,” he said.
Hurriyet Daily News