Turkey on Sunday defied a Greek statement on its extension of the search and rescue responsibility area in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, calling it “groundless”.

“Today (18 October), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece made a groundless statement regarding the extension of the search and rescue responsibility area of Turkey in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said in a written statement.

He said the search and rescue areas are not areas of sovereignty but of service.

“In this regard, Greece’s claim that this area, which remains outside of her territorial waters and is merely aimed at rescue and protection of human life, is a violation of her sovereignty, cannot be associated with law and a humanitarian approach,” Aksoy added.

He noted that it was only the adaptation of the area, “where Turkey effectively provides search and rescue services,” to the current circumstances.

“The search and rescue responsibility area of Turkey has been extended to ensure the safety of the activities within our continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean,” he said.

Aksoy highlighted that Turkey’s operations in the seas were being carried out with a “humanitarian notion,” as opposed to “Greece’s political motives”.

“Nevertheless, regarding the overlapping search and rescue responsibility areas of two littoral states in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, Greece continues to leave our persistent calls in line with the provisions of 1979 Hamburg International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue for cooperation and coordination, unanswered,” he said.

Noting that Greece diminished the priority of human life by claiming that such areas are the areas of sovereignty, Aksoy added that Athens displayed this approach once more by its inhumane treatment for asylum seekers in the Aegean Sea.

“The sole country in the region with the operational capability to respond to any kind of incident that could jeopardize human life is Turkey,” the official stressed, adding that in this framework, the step to extend its search and rescue responsibility area is significant to make the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean — which have one of the busiest maritime and air traffic in the world — safer for human life.

*Writing by Sena Guler

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