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Greece determined to establish marine park in Aegean despite Turkey’s objections: PM

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Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said his country will go ahead with its plans to create a marine park in the Aegean Sea despite objections from neighboring Turkey, the Greek Kathimerini newspaper reported.

Mitsotakis’ remarks came during an interview with the Greek Action24 television channel on Wednesday.

“These are marine parks within our territorial waters. There has been a lot of pointless discussion on this issue. It doesn’t concern Turkey. If Turkey wants to create its own parks within its territorial waters, that’s none of my business,” Mitsotakis said.

In April Greece’s plans to create two large marine parks, one in the Ionian Sea and one in the Aegean, to protect biodiversity and marine ecosystems, drew an angry reaction from Turkey, as Ankara is contesting the sovereignty of some of the maritime territory involved. Turkey’s foreign ministry accused Athens of exploiting environmental issues to push its geopolitical agenda.

The two neighbors, also NATO allies, have had longstanding disputes over exploratory drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean and the divided island of Cyprus as well as rival claims over the Aegean Sea.

The Turkish foreign ministry said it would “not accept fait accompli” Athens’ decision to declare two marine parks in the Aegean and Ionian seas ahead of an oceans conference held in Greece on April 15-17.

“There are no ‘gray zones’ in the Aegean for Greece. The sovereignty issues in the Aegean – I also mentioned this to President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan – are defined by the Treaty of Lausanne,” he said, referring to their Ankara meeting earlier this month.

“Our relationship is difficult, but we have found a code of sincere communication,” Mitsotakis said about his relationship with Erdoğan.

After years of tension over migration, energy rights and maritime borders in the Aegean Sea, Greece and Turkey restarted high-level talks in December when President Erdoğan paid his first to Athens since 2017 and signed a declaration of friendship between the two historic rivals.

Mitsotakis reciprocated Erdoğan’s visit on May 13.

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