“In fact, our country has no objection to general aims and content of the EU’s environmental programs … However, it is well known that Greece has long been exploiting these programs with respect to the Aegean issues… We would like to reiterate that the Greek Law no. 4519 [on “Natura 2000” regions] will not bear any legal effect regarding the disputes existing between Turkey and Greece in the Aegean Sea,” Aksoy stated on Saturday.
The spokesman also urged Greece to “act with common sense” and warned the European Union against becoming “a tool” in the hands of Greece with regard to the issue.
The relations between Greece and Turkey have worsened since a Turkish patrol boat rammed into a Greek coast guard vessel in the Aegean Sea in mid-February. While the Greek boat only suffered minor damages and nobody was injured, the incident underscored the existing tensions between the two countries, which contest control over certain territories in the Aegean Sea.
In 1996, the dispute over the territorial affiliation of the two rocky islets of Imia (Kardak) in the Dodecanese archipelago in the Aegean Sea led to a crisis in relations between Greece and Turkey. The conflict was terminated after the intervention of the international community, NATO and the United States.