Aegean dispute


Aegean dispute

The term Aegean dispute refers to a set of interrelated controversial issues between Greece and Turkey over sovereignty and related rights in the area of the Aegean Sea. This set of conflicts has had a large effect on the relations between the two countries since the 1970s. This led twice to crises coming close to the outbreak of military hostilities, in 1987 and in early 1996. The issues in the Aegean fall into several categories:
* The delimitation of the territorial waters,
* The delimitation of the national airspace,
* The delimitation of exclusive economic zones and the use of the continental shelf,
* The delimitation of Flight Information Regions (FIR), and their significance for the control of military flight activity,
* The issue of the demilitarized status assigned to some of the Greek islands in the area,
* The introduction by Ankara of the concept of "grey zones", in describing its policy to dispute the status of an undetermined number of islands and islets, with the small grazing islets of Imia/Kardak being the best-known example.

Since 1998, the two countries have been coming closer to overcome the tensions through a series of diplomatic measures, particularly with a view to easing Turkey's accession to the European Union. However, as of 2006, differences over suitable diplomatic paths to a substantial solution are still unresolved.

"See also: " Foreign relations of Turkey, Foreign relations of Greece

Maritime and areal zones of influence

Several of the Aegean issues deal with the delimitation of both countries' zones of influence in the air and on the sea around their respective territories. These issues owe their virulence to a geographical peculiarity of the Aegean sea and its territories. While the mainland coasts of Greece and Turkey border the Aegean Sea on both sides and represent roughly equal shares of its total coastline, the overwhelming number of the many islands in the Aegean belong to Greece. In particular, there is a chain of Greek islands lined up along the Turkish west coast (Lesbos, Chios, Samos, and the Dodecanese islands), partly in very close proximity to the mainland. Turkey claims that they cut off large parts of it from the open sea, and sees it as blocking it from extending any of its zones of influence beyond a few miles off its coastline. The breadth of maritime and areal zones of influence, such as the territorial waters and national airspace, are traditionally measured from the nearest territory of the state in question, including its islands. This means that the division of these zones in the Aegean are claimed to favour Greece. Turkey also claims that any possible "extension" of such zones is bound to benefit Greece much more than Turkey proportionally.

According to a popular perception of these issues in the two countries, Turkey is concerned that Greece might be trying to extend its zones of influence to such a degree that it would turn the Aegean effectively into a "Greek lake". Conversely, Greece is concerned that Turkey might try to "occupy half of the Aegean", i.e. establish Turkish zones of influence towards the middle of the Aegean, beyond the chain of outlying Greek islands, turning these into a kind of exclave surrounded by Turkish waters, and thus cutting them off from their motherland.Kemal Başlar (2001): Two facets of the Aegean Sea dispute: 'de lege lata' and 'de lege ferenda'. In: K. Başlar (ed.), "Turkey and international law." Ankara. [http://www.turkishweekly.net/pdf/aegean_sea.pdf] ]

The territorial waters

Territorial waters give the littoral state full control over air navigation in the airspace above, and partial control over shipping, although foreign ships (both civil and military) are normally guaranteed innocent passage through them. The standard width of territorial waters that countries are customarily entitled to has steadily increased in the course of the 20th century: from initially 3 nautical miles at the beginning of the century, to 6 miles, and currently 12 miles (c.22 km). The 12-mile value has been enshrined in treaty law by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982 (Art.3). In the Aegean the territorial waters claimed by both sides are still at 6 miles. The possibility of an extension to 12 miles has fuelled Turkish concerns over a possible disproportionate increase in Greek-controlled space. Turkey has refused to become a member of the convention and does not consider itself bound by it, although it has applied the customary 12 miles on its other coastlines outside the Aegean. Turkey considers the convention as "res inter alios acta," i.e. a treaty that can only be binding to the signing parties but not to others. Greece, which is a party to the convention, has stated that it reserves the right to apply this rule and extend its waters to 12 miles at some point in the future, although it has never actually attempted to do so. It holds that the 12-mile rule is not only treaty law but also customary law at the same time, as per the wide consensus established among the international community. Against this, Turkey argues that the special geographical properties of the Aegean Sea make a strict application of the 12-mile rule in this case illicit in the interest of equity.Wolff Heintschel von Heinegg (1989): "Der Ägäis-Konflikt: Die Abgrenzung des Festlandsockels zwischen Griechenland und der Türkei und das Problem der Inseln im Seevölkerrecht. Berlin: Duncker und Humblot". de icon] Furthermore, Turkey argues that although according to the convention the islands are considered as land and have their territorial waters, the third paragraph of Article 121 states that "Rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf.". Turkey also claims that the attempts of Greece to extend their territorial waters to 12 miles violates Article 300 of the agreement as well, which mentions that "States Parties shall fulfil in good faith the obligations assumed under this Convention and shall exercise the rights, jurisdiction and freedoms recognized in this Convention in a manner which would not constitute an abuse of right.". [http://www.un.org/Depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unclos/closindx.htm] Unites Nations Convention On The Law Of The Sea.]

Tensions over the 12-mile question ran highest between the two countries in the early 1990s, when the Law of the Sea was going to come into force. On 9 June 1995, the Turkish parliament officially declared that unilateral action by Greece would constitute a "casus belli", i.e. reason to go to war, by Turkey. This declaration has been condemned by Greece as a violation of the Charter of the United Nations, which forbids "the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state".

The national airspace

The national airspace is normally defined as the airspace covering a state's land territory and its adjacent territorial waters. National airspace gives the sovereign state a large degree of control over foreign air traffic. While civil aviation is normally allowed passage under international treaties, foreign military and other state aircraft (unlike military vessels in the territorial waters) do not have a right to free passage through another state's national airspace.Fact|date=February 2007

The delimitation of national airspace claimed by Greece is exceptional, as it does not coincide with the boundary of the territorial waters. Greece claims 10 miles (18.5 km) of airspace, as opposed to currently (without the Law of the Sea been active) 6 miles (11.1 km) of water. Since 1974, Turkey has refused to acknowledge the validity of those outer 4 miles (7.4 km) of airspace that extend beyond the Greek territorial waters. Turkey cites the statutes of the International Civil Aviation Organization "(ICAO)" of 1948, as containing a binding definition that both zones must coincide. [http://www.turkishembassy.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=225&Itemid=240 Embassy of Turkey in Washington: Aegean Disputes] ] Against this, Greece argues that:
*its 10-mile claim predates the ICAO statute, having been fixed in 1931, and that it was acknowledged by all its neighbours, including Turkey, before and after 1948, hence constituting an established right; [http://www.mfa.gr/www.mfa.gr/en-US/Policy/Geographic+Regions/South-Eastern+Europe/Turkey/Turkish+claims/ Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Unilateral Turkish claims in the Aegean] .]
*its 10-mile claim can also be interpreted as just a partial, selective use of the much wider rights guaranteed by the Law of the Sea, namely the right to a 12-mile (22.2 km) zone both in the air and on the water;
*Greek territorial waters are only set at the 6 mile boundary because of Turkey's casus belli (see above).

The conflict over military flight activities has led to a practice of continuous tactical military provocations, with Turkish aircraft flying in the outer four mile zone of contentious airspace and Greek aircraft intercepting them. These encounters often lead to so-called "dog-fights", dangerous flight maneuvres that have repeatedly ended in casualties on both sides. In one instance in 1996, it has been alleged that a Turkish plane was accidentally shot down by a Greek one.The incident was first described as an accident. In 2004, a Greek newspaper published claims that the Turkish plane had unintentionally been shot down by the Greek one. The shootdown was confirmed by the Turkish government but denied by the Greek side [http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_politics_100010_20/05/2003_29809] .]

The continental shelf

In the context of the Aegean dispute, the term continental shelf refers to a littoral state's exclusive right to economic exploitation of resources on and under the sea-bed, for instance oil drilling, in an area adjacent to its territorial waters and extending into the High Seas. The width of the continental shelf is commonly defined for purposes of international law as not exceeding 200 nautical miles (370.4 km). Where the territories of two states lie closer opposite each other than double that distance, the division is made by the median line. The concept of the continental shelf is closely connected to that of an exclusive economic zone, which refers to a littoral state's control over fishery and similar rights. Both concepts were developed in international law from the middle of the 20th century, and were codified in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1982.

The dispute between Turkey and Greece is to what degree the Greek islands off the Turkish coast should be taken into account for determining the Greek and Turkish economic zones. Turkey argues that the notion of "continental shelf", by its very definition, implies that distances should be measured from the continental mainland, claiming that the sea-bed of the Aegean geographically forms a natural prolongation of the Anatolian land mass. This would mean for Turkey to be entitled to economic zones up to the median line of the Aegean (leaving out, of course, the territorial waters around the Greek islands in its eastern half, which would remain as Greek exclaves.) Greece, on the other hand, claims that all islands must be taken into account on an equal basis,since in the convention on the Law of the Sea is stated that islands'themselves have their own continental shelf. Also no geographical terms should be taken in account ( thus the Turkish point of view that the sea-bed of the Aegean geographically forms a natural prolongation of the Anatolia land mass should not be taken in account), according to the International Court decisions which set the continental shelf dispute between Libya and Tunisia. This would mean that Greece would gain the economic rights to almost the whole of the Aegean.

In this matter, Greece has the UN Law of the Sea on its side, although the Convention restricts the application of this rule to islands of a notable size, as opposed to small uninhabitable islets and rocks.Turkey has refused to join that convention.However,according to the International Court of Justice the article 1 of the Convention of Geneva(1958)is common law and so all states are bounded to it. For this reason, this is the only one of all the Aegean issues where Greece has officially acknowledged that Turkey has legitimate interests that might require some international process of arbitration or compromise between the two sides.

Tensions over the continental shelf were particularly high during the mid-1970s and again the late 1980s, when it was believed that the Aegean Sea might hold rich oil reserves. Turkey at that time conducted exploratory oceanographic research missons in parts of the disputed area. These were perceived as a dangerous provocation by Greece, which led to a buildup of mutual military threats in 1976 and again in 1987. The issue has since lost some of its importance, as it is now believed that the oil expectations of the time were exaggerated.Fact|date=February 2007

The Flight Information Regions

Unlike the issues described so far, the question of Flight Information Regions (FIR) does not affect the two states' sovereignty rights in the narrow sense. A FIR is a mere zone of responsibility assigned to a state within the framework of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). It relates to the responsibility for regulating civil aviation. A FIR may stretch beyond the national airspace of a country, i.e. over areas of high seas, or in some cases even over the airspace of another country. It does not give the responsible state the right to prohibit flights by foreign aircraft; however, foreign aircraft are obliged to submit flight plans to the authorities administrating the FIR. This has been perceived by both Greece and Turkey as giving the state administering the FIR a certain tactical advantage with respect to military movement in that zone. Two separate disputes have arisen: the issue of a unilaterally proposed revision of the FIR demarcation, and the question of what rights and obligations arise from the FIR with respect to military as opposed to civil flights.

The FIR demarcation

By virtue of an agreement signed in 1952, the whole airspace over the Aegean, up to the boundary of the national airspace of Turkey, is assigned to Athens FIR, administered by Greece. Shortly after the Cyprus crisis of 1974, Turkey unilaterally attempted to change this arrangement, issuing a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) stating that it would take over the administration of the eastern half of the Aegean airspace, including the national airspace of the Greek islands in that area. Greece responded with a declaration rejecting this move, and declaring the disputed zone unsafe for aviation due to the conflicting claims to authority. This led to some disruption in civil aviation in the area. Turkey later changed its stance, and has since 1980 returned to recognizing Athens FIR in its original demarcation. In practice, the FIR demarcation is currently no longer a disputed issue.

Military overflights

The current (as of 2006) controversy over the FIR relates to the question whether the Greek authorities have a right to oversee not only civil but also military flight activities in the international parts of the Aegean airspace. According to common international practice, military aircraft normally submit flight plans to FIR authorities when moving in international airspace, just like civil aircraft. Turkey, concerned that Greece might misuse its civil regulation authority in order to gain a tactical military advantage, refuses to do so. Turkey cites the charter of the ICAO from 1948, which explicitly restricts the scope of its regulations to civil aircraft, arguing that therefore the practice of including military aircraft in the same system is strictly optional. Greece, in contrast, argues that it is obligatory, on the basis of later regulations of the ICAO in the interest of civil aviation safety.Moreover, ICAO has relegated each country the authority to prescribe complementary relegations (NOTAM) to the ICAO general rules.

This disagreement has led to similar practical consequences as the issue of 6 vs. 10 miles of national airspace, as Greece considers all Turkish military flights not registered with its FIR authorities as transgressions of international air traffic regulations, and routinely has its own air force jets intercepting the Turkish ones, claiming that this is in the interest of aviation safety. In popular perception in Greece, the issue of allegedly illegal Turkish flights in the international part of Athens FIR is often confused with that of the Turkish intrusions in the disputed outer 4-mile (7.4 km) belt of Greek airspace. However, in careful official usage, Greek authorities and media distinguish between "violations" ("παραβιάσεις") of the national airspace, and "transgressions" ("παραβάσεις") of traffic regulations, i.e. of the FIR.

One of the routine interception maneuvres led to a fatal accident on May 23 2006. Two Turkish F-16s and one reconnaissance F-4 were flying in the international airspace over the southern Aegean at 27000 feet without having submitted flight plans to the Greek FIR authorities. They were intercepted by two Greek F-16s off the coast of the Greek island Karpathos. During the ensuing mock dog fight, a Turkish F-16 and a Greek F-16 crashed midair. The pilot of the Turkish plane survived the crash, but the Greek pilot died. The incident also highlighted another aspect of the FIR issue, a dispute over conflicting claims to responsibility for maritime search and rescue operations. The Turkish pilot reportedly refused to be rescued by the Greek forces that had been dispatched to the area; some journalists also claim that he even threatened the rescuers with his personal handgun (although this claim is disputed by the Turkish authorities who remark that Turkish pilots do not carry handguns during flights). He was later rescued by a Panama registered civilian vessel. Although initially the event caused some excitement both in Turkey and Greece, calm responses from the militaries and governments of both sides prevented a crisis. Both sides expressed their wish to quickly realize an earlier plan of establishing a direct hotline between the air force commands of both countries in order to prevent escalation of similar situations in the future.

The islands

While all the issues described so far are related to zones of influence at sea or in the air, there have also been a number of disputes related to the territories of the Greek islands themselves. These have related to the demilitarized status of some of the main islands in the area; to Turkish concerns over alleged endeavours by Greece to artificially expanding settlements to previously uninhabited islets; and to the existence of alleged ""Grey zones"">grey zones", an undetermined number of small islands of undetermined sovereignty.

Demilitarized status

The question of the demilitarized status of some major Greek islands is complicated by a number of facts. Several of the Greek islands in the eastern Aegean as well as the Turkish straits region were placed under various regimes of demilitarization in different international treaties. The regimes developed over time, resulting in difficulties of treaty-interpretation. The military status of the islands in question did however not constitute a serious problem in the bilateral relations until the Cyprus crisis of 1974, after which both Greece and Turkey re-interpreted the stipulations of the treaties. Greece, claiming an inalienable right to defend itself against Turkish aggression, reinforced its military and National Guard forces in the region. Turkey, on the other hand, denounces this as an aggressive act by Greece and as a breach of international treaties. From a legal perspective, three groups of islands may be distinguished: (a) the islands right off the Turkish Dardanelles straits, i.e. Lemnos and Samothrace; (b) the Dodecanese islands in the southeast Aegean; and (c) the remaining northeast Aegean islands (Lesbos, Chios, Samos, and Ikaria).

Lemnos and Samothrace

These islands were placed under a demilitarization statute by the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, to counterbalance the simultaneous demilitarization of the Turkish straits area (the Dardanelles and Bosphorus), Imbros and Tenedos. The demilitarization on the Turkish side was later abolished through the Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Turkish Straits in 1936. Greece holds that, by superseding the relevant sections of the earlier treaty, the convention simultaneously lifted also the Greek obligations with respect to these islands. Against this, Turkey argues that, although Greece is a signatory to the convention, the Montreux treaty did not mention the islands and has not changed their status. Greece, however, cites Turkish official declarations, by the then Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Rustu Aras, to that effect made in 1936, [Gazette of the Minutes of the Turkish National Assembly, volume 12, July 31/1936, page 309] assuring the Greek side that Turkey would consider the Greek obligations lifted.

The Dodecanese

These islands were placed under a demilitarization statute after the Second World War by the Treaty of peace with Italy (1947), when Italy ceded them to Greece. Italy had previously not been under any obligation towards Turkey in this respect. Turkey, in turn, was not a party to the 1947 treaty, having been neutral during WWII. Greece therefore holds that the obligations it incurred towards Italy and the other parties in 1947 are "res inter alios acta" for Turkey in the sense of Article 34 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, which states that "a treaty does not create obligations or rights for a third country", and that Turkey thus cannot base any claims on them. Turkey argues that the demilitarization agreement constitutes a so-called status treaty (an "objective régime"), where according to general rules of treaty law such an exclusion does not hold.

The remaining islands

The remaining islands (Lesbos, Chios, Samos, and Ikaria) were placed under a partial demilitarization statute by the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923. It prohibited the establishment of naval bases and fortifications, but allowed Greece to maintain a limited military contingent recruited from the local population, as well as police forces. With respect to these islands, Greece has not claimed that the treaty obligations have been formally superseded. However, in recent years it has argued that it is entitled to discount them, invoking Article 15 of the Charter of the United Nations. It argues that after the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus and the Turkish threat of war over the 12-miles issue, re-armament is an act of legitimate self-defence.

Greek settlement programmes

In mid-1995, the Greek government launched an initiative to provide economic incentives to private individuals to settle permanently on some of the small, mostly uninhabited peripheral islets in the area.Fact|date=February 2007 Turkish media and some government officials reacted with suspicion, citing as a reason for concern that Greece might use this to prejudice a future arrangement regarding the continental shelf issue in its favour. This would be because the UN Law of the Sea distinguishes between islands that can sustain human habitation and those that cannot. Turkey at that point did not question Greek sovereignty over these islets as such; however, it insisted that it would not accept an artificially changed "status quo" as a basis for later negotiations. Greece claimed that the motives behind this programme were simply to boost regional infrastructure and economic development in its outlying rural areas, which were suffering severely from depopulation. This issue soon lost much of its relevance, as from 1996 onwards it became overshadowed and absorbed by the much more serious issue of the so-called “grey zones”, where the sovereignty of the islands itself was being called into question by Turkey.

"Grey zones"

Imia/Kardak

The first time a dispute between the two countries in the Aegean touched on questions of actual sovereignty over territories was in early 1996, on the occasion of a naval havary at the tiny barren islets of Imia/Kardak, situated between the Dodecanese island chain and the Turkish mainland. The conflict was originally caused by factual inconsistencies between maps of the area, some of which assigned these islets to Greece, others to Turkey. The media of the two countries took up the issue and gave it a nationalistic turn, before the two governments even had the time to come to a full technical understanding of the true legal and geographical situation. Both governments were then forced prematurely to adopt an intransigent stance, publicly asserting their own claims of sovereignty over the islets, in order to save face. The result was military escalation, which was perceived abroad as quite out of proportion with the size and significance of the rocks in question. The two countries were at the brink of war for a few days, until the crisis was defused with the help of foreign mediation. [Ch. Maechling (1997): The Aegean sea: a crisis waiting to happen. "US Naval Institute Proceeding 71-73.]

During the crisis and in the months following it, both governments were busy elaborating legal arguments for why each considered the islets their own. The arguments exchanged concerned the interpretation of the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923, which forms the principal basis for the legal status of territories in most of the region, as well as certain later diplomatic dealings between Turkey, Greece and Italy.

Other "Grey Zones"

During this process new claims, arose: the same legal reasons Turkey was bringing forward with respect to Imia/Kardak could be seen to apply not only to this one case, but to a possibly large number of other islands and small formations across the Aegean too. Most of them, unlike Imia/Kardak, had undeniably been in "factual" Greek possession, which had never been challenged by Turkey, and most named are inhabited.

Since then, Turkish authorities have spoken of "grey zones" of undetermined sovereignty, i.e. of islets whose legal status it disputes. The Turkish government has avoided stating exactly which islets it wishes to include in this category. At various occasions, Turkish sources have indicated that islands such as Pserimos, Agathonisi, Fournoi and Gavdos [ [http://www.hri.org/MFA/foreign/bilateral/gavdos.htm Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement on the Gavdos issue] ] (situated south of Crete) might be included. Additional claims were made in a recent publication by the retired Turkish Air Force Major who handled military operations during the Kardak/Imia crisis [(Major)Ali Kurumahmut, Sertaç Başeren (2004): "The twilight zones in the Aegean: (Un)forgotten Turkish islands. Ege'de gri bölgeler: Unutul(may)an Türk adaları." Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu. (ISBN 975-16-1740-5). tr icon] listing the following (among other, even smaller ones):
*Kalogeroi,
*Antipsara (west of the islands of Psara and Khios),
*Pontiko (between Samos and the Turkish coast),
*Fournoi,
*Arkoi,
*Agathonisi (Gaidaros),
*Pharmakonisi,
*Kalolimnos (near Imia/Kardak),
*Pserimos,
*Gyali (between Kos and Nisyros),
*Kandheliousa (south of Kos),
*Sirina (SE of Astypalaia)

These discussions of the claims' validity are largely limited to the internal politics and academics of Turkey, and are not typically an issue of per se concern in Greece itself nor in the international community—these islands are all internationally recognized as part of Greece.

But the issue of “grey zones” has added yet two additional problems and mutual confidence loss in Turkish-Greek relations.

They add to the number of small military incidents already numerous due to the 10-mile (18.5 km) airspace and the FIR issues. The Turkish airforce has reportedly adopted a policy of ignoring Greek claims to all airspace and territorial waters around such formations that it counts as “grey zones”. According to Greek press reports, the number of airspace violations within the 6-mile limit recognised by Ankara rose sharply in 2006, as did the number of unauthorised Turkish military flights directly over Greek islands themselves. [citenews|url=http://www.ethnos.gr/article.asp?catid=11378&subid=2&pubid=372438|title=Στις γκρίζες ζώνες και το μειονοτικό...|work=Το Έθνος|author=Νίκος Μελέτης|date=2008-01-26]

The "grey zones" claims also have had an effect on government and public views in Greece concerning appropriate responses on other issues. Greek discussions and political discourse on responses to disputes and claims in the Aegean include the perception that new and open-ended nature of the "grey zones" indicate that Ankara's policy may be one of continual and increasing claims.

Most recently, in 2007, Turkey claimed that Agios Efstratios, an inhabited Greek island in the northern Aegean, is demilitarised, [ [http://www.in.gr/news/article.asp?lngEntityID=786018 Επαναφέρει τις «γκρίζες ζώνες» στο Αιγαίο η Τουρκία με επιστολή στο ΝΑΤΟ] el icon] despite the lack of any such provision in the relevant treaties.

trategies of conflict resolution

The decades since the 1970s have seen a repeated heightening and abating of political and military tensions over the Aegean. Thus, the "Sismik I" crisis of 1987 was followed by a series of negotiations and agreements in Davos and Brussels in 1988. Again, after the Imia/Kardak crisis of 1996, there came an agreement over peaceful neighbourly relations reached at a meeting in Madrid in 1997. The period since about 1999 has been marked by a steady improvement of bilateral relations.

For years, the Aegean dispute has been a matter not only about conflicting claims of substance. Rather, proposed strategies of how to resolve the substantial differences have themselves constituted a matter of heated dispute. Whereas Turkey has traditionally preferred to regard the whole set of topics as a "political" issue, requiring bilateral political negotiation, Greece views them as "separate" and purely "legal" issues, requiring only the application of existing principles of international law. Turkey has advocated direct negotiation, with a view to establishing what it would regard as an equitable compromise. Greece refuses to accept any process that would put it under pressure to engage in a give-and-take over what it perceives as inalienable and unnegotiable sovereign rights. Up to the late 1990s, the only avenue of conflict resolution that Greece deemed acceptable was to submit the issues separately to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

The resulting stalemate between both sides over process was partially changed after 1999, when the European summit of Helsinki opened up a path towards Turkey's accession to the EU. In the summit agreement, Turkey accepted an obligation to solve its bilateral disputes with Greece before actual accession talks would start. This was perceived as giving Greece a new tactical advantage over Turkey in determining which paths of conflict resolution to choose. During the following years, both countries held regular bilateral talks on the level of technical specialists, trying to determine possible future procedures. According to press reports Fact|date=February 2007, both sides seemed close to an agreement about how to submit the dispute to the court at The Hague, a step which would have fulfilled many of the old demands of Greece. However, a newly elected Greek government under Kostas Karamanlis, soon after it took office in March 2004, opted out of this plan, because Ankara was insisting that all the issues, including Imia/Kardak and the "grey zones", belonged to a single negotiating item. Athens saw them as separate. [ [http://tovima.dolnet.gr/print_article.php?e=B&f=14165&m=A24&aa=1 A. Papachelas: "'Γκρίζες ζώνες' στις διαπραγματεύσεις με την Αγκυρα". "Το Βήμα της Κυριακής", 16 May 2004.] el icon] However, Greek policy remained at the forefront in advocating closer links between Ankara and the EU. This resulted in the European Union finally opening accession talks with Turkey without its previous demands having been fulfilled.

See also

* Cyprus dispute
* Convention between Italy and Turkey,1932

References


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