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The Kardak Dispute

On January 28, 1996, the Government of Greece issued bellicose statements regarding the status of the Kardak Rocks, a mere 3.8 miles off the coast of Turkey in the Aegean Sea. This is yet another example of unfounded Greek claims to sovereignty even at 3.8 miles and results from long-standing bilateral disputes concerning the Aegean, including territorial waters, demilitarization of the Aegean islands, air space and the continental shelf.

Turkey is committed to defusing, rather than increasing, tension in this region. The dispute over the Kardak Rocks and other small islands and islets in the region, as well as the delimitation of the territorial waters, is an ongoing one. In creating a problem by extending its sovereignty to the islands beyond those ceded to Athens in 1947, Greece is acting irresponsibly by increasing tensions for domestic political consumption and by trying to involve others in the international community in the fray.

It is obvious that the possession of small islands, islets and rocks in the Aegean the status of which have not been clearly defined by international documents has yet to be determined by agreement. Therefore, attempts by Greece to inhabit the small islands, islets and rocks in question, in an artificial and demonstrative fashion, can in no way create any legal consequences in regard to their status.

The Government of Turkey is ready to enter into negotiations with Greece, with a view to determining the possession of small islands, islets and rocks in the Aegean. After such negotiations, the issue of delimitation of the territorial waters could also be discussed and resolved. In the meantime, Turkey would like to suggest that the parties refrain from any unilateral act that would aggravate the situation in the region.