Ankara, Turkey – “Our country’s search-and-rescue area of responsibility has also been expanded to ensure the safety of our activities on our continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hami Aksoy said in response to the Greek Foreign Ministry’s statement.

Spokesperson Aksoy, Turkey’s search and rescue area in the Aegean and Mediterranean to expand the statement of the Greek Foreign Ministry, responded in writing. “Search and rescue areas are service areas, not sovereignty,” Aksoy said, noting that the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs made a baseless statement about the expansion of Turkey’s search and rescue responsibility area. In this regard, this claim of Greece, which does not cover its territorial waters and considers this area for the saving and protection of human life to be a violation of its sovereignty, is far from the law and humanitarian considerations. Arbitrariness consists in updating the areas where our country currently provides search and rescue services according to today’s conditions. Our country’s search and rescue area of responsibility has also been expanded to ensure the safety of our activities on our continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean,” he said.

Spokesperson Aksoy, Turkey’s successful search and rescue activities in the surrounding seas, unlike Greece, not for political reasons, but for purely humanitarian reasons, he said :

“However, Greece continues to unanswered our country’s calls for persistent cooperation and coordination in accordance with the provisions of the 1979 Hamburg International Maritime Search and Rescue Convention on overlapping search and rescue responsibility areas of the two coastal countries in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. In addition, by claiming that these areas are an area of sovereignty, Greece has not seen any success in putting the security of human life in the background, and has demonstrated this attitude with the inhumane treatment it sees in irregular migrants who are in a difficult situation in the Aegean Sea. Turkey is the only country in the region with operational competence to respond to any incident that may pose a danger to human life. In this context, the expansion of our country’s search and rescue responsibility area is an important step taken to make the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, one of the most dense regions of sea and air traffic in the world, safer for human life.”

Greece: Turkish ‘search and rescue’ area contested

Greece’s Foreign Ministry says a “search and rescue area” that covers half the Aegean Sea, as delineated by a new Turkish law, is contested and will end up endangering lives.

The area “as well as the one defined by a 1988 law is contested to the extent that it includes Greek areas of sovereignty and responsibility…it is not based on operational criteria and it does not serve the purpose of (ensuring) the safety of human lives,” the ministry said in an announcement published early Sunday.

“It is obvious that with this latest move that is exclusively politically motivated, Turkey does not hesitate to cause confusion, risking human lives. This move has been added to a long litany of Turkish arbitrary actions and illegal claims in the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean that are to blame for the recent unprecedented escalation,” continues the ministry announcement.

“Turkey must, at some point , comply at last with international legal norms,” the statement concludes.