It was the Turkish side's turn on Tuesday to spin its side of the story regarding a recent surge in tension in the eastern Aegean, and specifically after yet another standoff near two rocky islets located between the island of Kalymnos and the Asia Minor land mass.
Athens sharply reacted on Monday to the bumping of a Greek coast guard vessel by a Turkish warship near one of the two Imia islets on Sunday. Turkey has disputed Greek sovereignty over the two islets since 1996, repeatedly referring to “grey zones” in the Aegean, whereas only days ago the Turkish foreign ministry upped the ante by saying the rocky outcrops were Turkish territory, what it has dubbed as the “Kardak” islets.
"We explicitly expressed to him (Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras) that staying away from tensions will be better, with regards to relations between the two countries,” Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told Turkish reporters on Tueday, a day after speaking with Tsipras on the phone.
In a bid to somewhat defuse the tension, he also said the Aegean Sea should be a "friendship" sea between Turkey and Greece, and should be used "efficiently" for the welfare of both countries, comments carried by the Anadolu agency.
Turkey, alone among EU member-states or candidate-states, neither signed nor ratified the UN Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Instead, successive Turkish governments have insisted over the past four decades on face-to-face “negotiations” over issues of islets' sovereignty, territorial waters, airspace, FIR jurisdiction, continental shelf delineation, and by extension, EEZ declaration, rather than rely on international treaties, international law or even recourse to an international adjudication body.