“Greece’s military exercises, provocative remarks encouraged by other powers”

Greece’s military maneuvers as well as its provocative statements are not made only per se, but are stimulated by certain powers, Justice and Development Party (AKP) Deputy Chairman Numan Kurtulmuş said on Monday.

“The main problem here is the unease felt by Turkey’s strong presence in the Mediterranean,” Kurtulmuş said during a media workshop.

More recently, Greece and the United States held a joint military exercise in the Aegean Sea amid rising tensions with Turkey.

The drill comes a week after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said “Greece as a whole has turned into an American military base”.

The Turkish leader was referring to the numerous US military installations in Alexandroupoli (Dedeağaç) in Greece.

The two neighbours, allies in NATO, are at odds over a number of issues such as competing claims over jurisdiction in the eastern Mediterranean, airspace, energy, the ethnically divided island of Cyprus and the status of the Aegean islands.

Emphasizing that Turkey will not give up its rights in the region and will continue its presence, Kurtulmuş said: “Since some people are uncomfortable with the existence of Turkey, they express their displeasure at the idea that Turkey defends its sovereign rights in the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean, through the support they give to Greece, as they have always done for Greece.

Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected maritime boundary claims by Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, stressing that such excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of Turkey and Turkish Cypriots.

However, Ankara has repeatedly stressed that it is in favor of resolving all outstanding issues in the region, including maritime disputes, through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue and negotiations.

Kurtulmuş said Turkey’s deal with Libya underlined that Ankara would not relinquish its rights to hydrocarbon resources in the Eastern Mediterranean.

On November 27, 2019, the internationally recognized Libyan government signed an agreement on security cooperation and the demarcation of a maritime border with Turkey.

The agreement also confirmed that Turkey and Libya are maritime neighbors. The delimitation starts from the southwest coast of Turkey from Fethiye, Marmaris and Kaş, and extends to the Derna-Tobruk-Bardia coast of Libya.

On the other hand, another cause of tension is the migration crisis in the region.

Turkey has repeatedly condemned Greece’s illegal practice of turning away asylum seekers, saying it violates humanitarian values ​​and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable migrants, including women and children.

13 irregular migrants pushed back by Greece were rescued on Monday by the Turkish coast guard off the districts of Dikili, in the province of Izmir, and Kuşadası, in the province of Aydın.

The rescued migrants were taken to the provincial migration directorate.

Turkey’s five Aegean provinces – Çanakkale, Balıkesir, Izmir, Muğla and Aydın – are favorite locations for refugees leaving Turkey for the European Union, with the Greek islands within sight of the Turkish coast.

In recent years, hundreds of thousands of people have made short but perilous journeys across the Aegean with the aim of reaching northern and western Europe in search of a better life.

Hundreds of people died at sea when several boats carrying refugees sank or capsized. The Turkish Coastguard Command rescued thousands more.

Turkey and Greece have been key transit points for migrants wishing to enter Europe, fleeing war and persecution to start a new life. Turkey has accused Greece of large-scale pushbacks, summary expulsions and denying migrants access to asylum procedures, in violation of international law. He also accuses the European Union of turning a blind eye to this flagrant violation of human rights.

Pushbacks are considered contrary to international agreements on the protection of refugees, which state that people should not be deported or sent back to a country where their life and safety could be at risk because of their race, religion, their nationality or their membership of a social or political group.

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