Athens, Greece – Turkey and Greece are two fierce historical rivals in the Blue Homeland (including the Black Sea, Eastern Mediterranean and Aegean Sea region), which began almost military conflict twice, in 1987 and 1996, over sovereignty disputes in the region. The geostrategic and geographical features of the region are the main causes of constant friction, as the numerous Aegean islands spread all over the sea provoke all sorts of consequences, including the area of the Law of the Sea.
Since the Aegean Sea is a closed sea between Greece and Turkey, UNCLOS (the Law of the Sea) does not apply in this region. Turkey does not expressly accept the regime established by UNCLOS and is not a party to the Convention. Instead, Turkey argues that the islands cannot have a full EEZ and that its own EEZ coexists with the continental shelf based on the relative lengths of adjacent coastlines. Turkey advocates what is called Turkey’s Blue Homeland strategy.
This Turkish interpretation of maritime boundaries in the Law of the Sea draws a middle line in the Aegean Sea. The Blue Homeland theory has a sovereign character that can change the current injustice and establish the image of Turkey as a legitimate and right interventionist in the region.
On 28 November 2019, Turkey signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Libya to delimit the maritime zones in the Eastern Mediterranean to an area between Turkey and Libya. While Greece states that all Aegean issues are legal issues that can best be arbitrated in international courts, Turkey understands that these are political issues that should not be brought before the ICJ. Turkey is quite active in the Blue Homeland region by sending reconnaissance ships to the new maritime border with Libya, expanding the area of “Search and Rescue Responsibility” in the Aegean Sea, among other military actions. The direct talks to resolve disagreements have been fruitless for years and have plunged the situation into a real political stalemate.