The Aegean Sea of Contradictions (Part I)

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2021-65-10-142-151
P. Gudev (,
Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation

Received 23.05.2021.

Abstract. The Aegean Sea as part of the Eastern Mediterranean has been a clash of national interests between Greece and Turkey for decades. In particular, this process has intensified since 1974, and although there have been certain peaks and troughs along the way, now it seems to be at a point of new aggravation in bilateral relations. In general, this state of affairs is due to the particular geographical characteristics of the Aegean Sea, namely the large number of Greek islands, rocks and island formations scattered throughout its waters, often close to the Turkish coastline. Through them, Athens can lay claim to significant areas of both waters, seabed and subsoil, as well as airspace, over which its sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction would extend. Such rights and powers are granted to Greece under the current international law of the sea and, above all, under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which Greece is a full party. However, the Aegean will in any case continue to be a region where other countries, including extra-regional ones, have their own interests in shipping and other maritime activities. In particular, it applies to the Russian Federation and the U. S. Turkey, for its part, is directly dependent on unhindered passage of its ships and warships from the Aegean Sea to the Black Sea and vice versa. The first part of this paper analyzes the historical and documentary background of the Turkish-Greek controversy, based on different understandings of the provisions and language of international agreements, such as the Lausanne Peace Treaty of 1923 and the Paris Peace Treaty of 1947. Turkey’s reasons for linking the issue of Greek sovereignty over particular islands in the Aegean Sea to their demilitarized status as prescribed in these international treaties is described. The reasons why incidents between Greek and Turkish warplanes regularly occur in the Aegean airspace, which have different interpretations of the boundaries between national and international airspace, is explored. Special attention is paid to the legal basis for the formation of air defense identification zones and flight information regions by various states, including Greece. It is shown, which legal documents regulate the establishment of Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) and Flight Information Area (FIR).

Keywords: 1923 Lausanne Peace Treaty, 1947 Paris Peace Treaty, demilitarized status, sovereignty, Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), Flight Information Area (FIR), airspace, territorial sea, high seas


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For citation:
Gudev P. The Aegean Sea of Contradictions (Part I). World Eonomy and International Relations, 2021, vol. 65, no. 10, pp. 142-151.

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