Turkey, Greece in fresh dispute over uninhabited islets

A new border dispute between Greece and Turkey has emerged after Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos claimed a number of uninhabited Aegean islands as Greek nature reserves, Greek newspaper Kathimerini said.

Greece says that all areas in the Aegean designated as Natura 2000 regions under an EU conservation scheme were part of its territory and part of the European Union.

Turkey responded by saying that many of these areas were grey zones and not part of Greek territory.

"These statements do not bear any legal effect,” Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said.

“Turkey, as has been the case until today, as well as hereinafter, will not accept any possible fait accompli to be presented by Greece towards the geographical formations in the Aegean Sea, the legal status of which are disputed.”

The Greek Foreign Ministry responded by saying its claim could not be disputed and recommending that Turkey focus on its EU membership bid.

"Turkey only recently officially restated its intention to stay on course for accession to the European Union,” spokesman Alexandros Yennimatas said.

“It is obvious that the first thing Turkey needs to do if it wants to succeed is to respect international law and the European acquis." 

Greece and Turkey have a number of disputes over their borders in the Aegean, most conspicuously the islets known as Imia in Greek and Kardak in Turkish, between the Greek island of Kalimnos and the Turkish coast. The two NATO countries almost went to war over the uninhabited rocky outcrops in 1996.