Deputy PM: Turkey aware of its rights in Aegean Sea
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said on Monday he hoped recent controversial comments from Greece’s defense minister about a number of Aegean Sea islets were just a personal, not official, position, Anadolu reported.
Speaking at a news conference after a cabinet meeting in Ankara, Kurtulmus noted Greece was being run by a coalition government and he hoped the defense minister’s last comments on the Kardak islets did not reflect the view of the government in Athens.
“I would like to think that the Greece defense minister just expressed his own view,” he said.
Panos Kammenos -- founder of the Independent Greeks junior coalition party -- claimed last Friday Turkey was trying "to escalate the crisis" over the Kardak islets, warning against setting foot on them and saying Greek forces were ready for "any contingency”.
A decades-long dispute between Turkey and Greece over the uninhabited Aegean islets of Kardak brought the two countries to the brink of armed conflict in 1996 and led to renewed tensions this year.
Kurtulmus said this statement did not contribute to Turkey-Greece relations and added: “Turkey is aware of its own rights in the Aegean Sea.”
“The Kardak islands have symbolic value for Turkey. Depending on this symbolic value ... Turkey has a strategy and has the power to be able to protect its own law in the Aegean Sea,” he added.