By Nikos Kotzias *
Greece is a peaceful country and does not seek to provoke incidents with its neighbors. She proved that with the Prespa Agreement. She seeks to find creative and equitable solutions to her problems. She does not, however, take a single step back from her rights, her national sovereignty and territorial integrity. If necessary, she uses all means to defend her homeland and seas, her rights deriving from history and international law.
Some have misunderstood what it means to defend one’s country’s rights under international law, which is not some kind of “code of conduct”, nor just appealing to the court. It is, first of all, the pursuit of the realization of the rights deriving from International Law itself. The paradox in the case of Greece lies in the fact that many who appear as abiders of International Law, want by all means to prevent Greece from its implementation. I wonder, how can one be a follower of International Law and do everything to prevent its implementation, because they consider it a policy of extreme nationalism?
International law, at the moment, means closing the bays of the Greek Seas; delimitation of median lines from where our territorial waters will start, that is, the territorial sea; immediate submission of coordinates to the UN; expansion of the territorial zones that are not “involved” in the exploration for the continental shelf.
I note that the Turkey-Libya EEZ is not simply irregular and illegal under international law, but more than that it violates the Madrid Agreement. The latter “imposes” the “prevention of unilateral measures” in the Aegean. Yet, the Libyan-Turkish agreement on the EEZ crosses the SE side of the Aegean and, consequently, is illegal even with the Turkish interpretation of the Madrid Agreement. It is surprising that no one is referring to this gross violation of the Madrid Agreement.
The expansion of our territorial waters in SE Crete is imperative in order to break in half the illegal EEZ of Turkey with Libya and effectively abolish it, since third parties cannot “construct” EEZs in the territorial waters of a state. We must reach an EEZ agreement with Cyprus, in order to annul the EEZs of Turkey and Libya and to refer these two EEZs to the International Court of Justice. In this way, other issues, as Turkey wishes, are prevented from being involved in the Court’s case.
At the same time, through the EU, we must persuade Libya, unless it fancies the idea of an economic isolation, to join Greece to the International Court of Justice and evaluate its EEZ. And from this point of view, one can really see how foolish the government was for not demanding that the EEZ with Italy reaches the correct EEZ of Libya according to international law.
Of course, we had to find a good solution to the EEZ issues with Egypt, but without the concessions made in matters of principle. Bad retreats with negative consequences on many “fronts”.
Many argue that the Greek-Turkish difference can escalated into a Euro-Turkish schism. Such a choice makes sense under two conditions. First, that Greece, whenever necessary, will block any political decision that runs counter to our fundamental national interests. That Greece will not agree to any measures against a third country for actions for which Turkey goes unpunished. The EU cannot decide against Asian states for violating aspects of the Law of the Sea, and not respond accordingly to Turkey’s continuing violations against us. We cannot agree for the EU to defend one of its member states against third parties, as it does for the Baltics, and pretending to be the referee in the Greek-Turkish disputes while we are a member-state.
In the same context, we must restore the unified defense doctrine with Cyprus and the more systematic defense cooperation with France. To negotiate hard with the US. To strengthen our positions in its political system that have declined in the last two years. To make sure that we hold the new leadership of the Democrats accountable before our interests. And to ensure a package of free substantial military assistance. The rest of the UN Security Council members should also be used and cooperation with them should be strengthened. The forthcoming delivery of the six German submarines to Turkey must also be prevented. This goal should be a central issue for our stagnant diplomacy.
I note once again, something that I have proved in practice, that I endorse dialogue and negotiation. But such a policy requires good preparation, knowledge and attention in order to create the best conditions. At present, this preparation is made only by Turkey for its own interests. The latter, if things continue this way, will have no problem appearing before the International Arbitration/Court claiming for the same criteria implemented in the Greek agreements with Italy and Egypt (islands without influence, rights of third parties within the Greek EEZ, etc.) to be imposed.
Finally, the Greek left wing must be patriotic. First, there are no right or left questions, but only answers. When the left wing is not patriotic, then extreme chauvinist views prevail. Fascism and the right-super-conservative are not defeated “with psalms of complacency”, but with democratic-patriotic proposals and practices in national issues as well. Second, the Greek patriotic left wing does not bow its foreign policy before the right policy, nor does it undertake to serve it, as did those who, as part of their “anti-nationalist campaign”, voted for Stournaras as governor of the Bank of Greece. /ibna
* Nikos Kotzias is a former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, Emeritus Professor of International Relations and Foreign Policy at the University of Piraeus. Pratto Member. Author.