Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias has sent a letter to the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, regarding the recent illegal activities of Turkish fishing boats in Greek territorial waters around Farmakonisi, diplomatic sources said on Wednesday.
In the letter sent on Tuesday – also to European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas and the European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans, and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius – Dendias referred to an incident on January 5, in which a Greek coast guard vessel was harassed by a Turkish patrol boat. At the time, the Greek boat was trying to approach and identify three Turkish fishing boats, which had entered Greek territorial waters southeast of Farmakonisi in order to fish.
“The above repeated Turkish practice creates a dangerous security environment and increases the risk of an ‘accident’ that could then be instrumentalized by Ankara in order to scale up tension between Greece and Turkey,” the sources quoted Dendias as saying.
The letter also noted the lack of cooperation and the often aggressive attitude displayed by Turkish fishing crews toward both Greek coast guard vessels and Greek fishing craft, which was contrary to the legal fishing activities of Greek fishing vessels.
According to the sources, Dendias highlighted the consequences that such a development might have for the wider region and the relations between Turkey and Europe, then also referred to the aggressive rhetoric of Turkish officials, “who on an almost daily basis and without provocation make threats against Greece.”
When seen in combination with incidents disputing national sovereignty in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, Dendias noted in his letter, it was abundantly clear that Turkey was using unlawful and unregulated fishing as yet another means of implementing its revisionist policies and of disputing the status quo in the region.
According to the sources, he also stressed that the EU must take steps if Turkey continues the above practice and impose a financial cost on Turkey, demanding the implementation of EU regulations for countering illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, which state that any third country refusing to comply can be labeled “uncooperative” and its fishing products banned from EU markets.
Such a reaction on the part of the EU, Dendias said in the letter, will send a strong message to Ankara and actively demonstrate the EU’s solidarity with a member-state that has to deal on an almost daily basis with disputes of its sovereignty and threats of war.