Skirmish between Greek foreign minister and Turkish ambassador in Oslo (video)

A heated debate between Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and Turkish Ambassador to Norway Fazli Korman took place in front of a stunned audience in Oslo.

On Wednesday, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias gave a lecture at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) in Oslo on “Implementation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea: The Aegean Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean by Example.”

Among other things, the Foreign Minister spoke about Greece’s alliances with the countries of the Mediterranean region and Turkey’s refusal to join UNCLOS and recognize the right of Greece to expand its territorial waters, threatening it with war if it does so.

“Chalking the implementation of UNCLOS in the Eastern Mediterranean has a serious impact on peace and security in our region,” Dendias said. He added that Greece’s position is that it is ready to negotiate the delimitation of the continental shelf and the exclusive economic zone “and, in the absence of a bilateral agreement, to take our differences to court.”

Criticizing Turkey for challenging the legal right of the Greek islands to the continental shelf and exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and denying the validity of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, Dendias said:

“The truth is that the differences between Greece and Turkey are resolvable. On one precondition: that Turkey enter the 21st century. If it remains in the 19th century, if it remains in the same spirit as Suleiman the Magnificent did business with armadas around the Mediterranean, then this will not do.

Suddenly, the Turkish ambassador jumped up from his seat in the hall and started yelling at the Greek minister, blaming Greece for what Nikos Dendias had said before.

“The Aegean has two sides. And on the other side there is a land that you forget, it is called Asia Minor, you can remember it from history.” Ambassador Korman said: “You also did not mention the demilitarized status of some of the islands. This is also one of the issues we would like to discuss when it comes to international law and its application.”

Dendias also mentioned the “casus belli” with which Turkey has been threatening Greece with war since 1995 if Athens exercises its legal right to expand its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles. The head of Greek diplomacy stressed that Turkey violates the fundamental principles of the UN Charter with its casus belli.

Korman replied that the Turkish-Libyan agreement “was also a consequence of what you also know very well. And the casus belli declaration of the Turkish Grand National Assembly was also a consequence of Greece saying that they would continue to unilaterally declare continental waters 12 miles. And it will practically “block” Turkish waters, Turkey’s ability to reach international waters, and it will be locked in its own territorial waters. This is what you are imposing or trying to say to Turkey.”

Dendias countered that Turkey is a signatory to the UN Charter, which completely prohibits the use of force and the threat of force. “Isn’t casus belli exactly what is prohibited by the UN Charter?… Is it really an invitation to dialogue? Or is it a pure threat – and I could use harsher words than “pure threat”?

Lecture and heated debate in English at NUPI video:

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