A senior Greek minister on Thursday said there were no so-called ‘grey zones’ in the country’s territorial sovereignty.
“We do not negotiate our territorial waters and we will do whatever possible to protect the lives of the people in the area of Kalymnos,” Alternate Foreign Minister George Katrougalos said.
Katrougalos was speaking in parliament, replying to a question by Democratic Alliance lawmaker Dimitris Kremastinos about the sea around the Imia islets and Turkish harassment of Greek fishermen inside Greek waters.
“Every time a Turkish vessel harasses Greek fishermen, it is monitored and boldly sent away,” noted Katrougalos.
“The Turkish fishermen, with the protection of their coast guards, come within 2.5 nautical miles of the island of Kalymnos and with the support of the Turkish vessels they evict the Greek fishermen from the area… We do not want war, we want to live peacefully.
“However, we can’t say we are negotiating, we are discussing, without saying that we will resolve these simple matters,” said Kremastinos.
“Issues of national sovereignty are a given and we would not dream of putting them on the table in negotiations or discussing them.
“When Turkey intrudes on Greek territorial waters this is an illegal action, it is intercepted, and what we want is to de-escalate tension so that there is no incident.
“This is something we must understand and this is the meaning of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ discussion with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” explained Katrougalos.
“Nobody is negotiating over Imia, over our maritime space, but for matters that are disputed. We do not negotiate on issues that have been resolved by international treaties because that would border on high treason.
“What the Greek government accepts for the sea region of Imia is that which is designated by the Lausanne Treaty for all the islands between Italy and Turkey,” he added.
Kremastinos pointed out that “when we say negotiations we do not mean retreat. We mean discussion on a matter of life and death for the fishermen who want to fish in the region of Kalymnos. It is a very serious issue”.
Katrougalos underlined that Prime Minister Tsipras, in his recent visit to Kalymnos, reassured locals and fishermen that the coast guard and the navy will always support them.
“There is a national line followed by all governments. There may have been problems in the handling of issues in the past in Imia but do not raise issues of our sovereignty,” concluded Katrougalos.