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4/5/09

 

Greek American News

Introduction

  imia.pngΤου Αντιναύαρχου Δρ. Στυλιανού Χαρ. Πολίτη

Off the east coast of the Greek island of  Kalolimnos, two miles east-south-east, there are two small Greek islands. They belong to the Dodecanese, an insular complex that in Greek means twelve islands, the number of the most well-known  islands of the group. These two small islands are together called Imia or Limnia, in Greek, in  Turkish "Kardak". Their total area is 25,000 and 14,000 m² and they are 1.5 miles  apart.

They have always been uninhabited and the only person visiting them is a shepherd  named Antonis Vezyropoulos, who lives  in Kalymnos and who has a small number of goats on the islands. A maritime accident  (the grounding of a boat) gave Turkey  the chance to cause a serious incident, and dispute  Greek sovereignty not only over these two islands, but also over many others in the Aegean. A new issue also  arose regarding  the marking of territorial sea limits in the Aegean[1].

  Imia: Definition

  The first paragraph of Article 121 of the new United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, entitled "Islands regime" gives definition of an island. This is copied from the 1958 Geneva Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone. According to it: " An island is a naturally formed area of land, surrounded by water, which is above water at high tide[2]."

None of the Conventions contains any other term such as isle, islet, rock-island, rock, small or big island. International law recognizes  only islands and  nothing else. Even the word "rocks" mentioned in the 3rd paragraph of Article 121 of the new Convention, refers to islands as the relevant provision is included in the chapter  "Islands regime"  and does not contain any further definition of them. The use of the word "rock" does not mean that is is  accepted that this geological formation is not an island, once it fulfills the conditions of the first paragraph  of Article 121.  The International Hydrographic Organisation gives  a separate definition of "rock" which however has no meaning in law. It uses the quality criterion  alone associated with  the geological material that forms it. Regarding terms "isle and islet", the same Organization describes them as "islands" and gives some obscure definitions[3].

In the Turkish view, supported at the 3rd Conference on the Law of the Sea, the rights of  islands  to maritime zones depend on their size and population[4]. Turkey obviously claims through this proposal that all uninhabited and small islands have no territorial sea,  "maritime spaces", and states: "islands without economic life and situated outside of the territorial sea of a State shall have no marine space of their own".  It also refers to rocks which are considered as low-tide elevations. Romania, Turkey and some other African  states[5] proposed to divide islands  in groups depending on their size.

The African states, lined up with Turkey, tried to define "rocks" as "a naturally formed rocky elevation of ground, surrounded by water, which is above water at high tide"[6]. These proposals, however, were not adopted by the Convention as its members remained  in support of  the above-cited  definition drafted in 1958 in Geneva and finally adopted by them. No changes were made to the existing rights of islands on  maritime zones, although there were some amendments to the determination of these zones,  and a small exception was made regarding certain rocks.

This fact constitutes a strong a contrario argument, which convinces us that the views of Romania, Turkey and these few African States do not express the opinio juris of the overall number of states. In general, all efforts to make distinctions between islands, rocks, islets, and isles found no support and for this reason these distinctions are not recognized in international law[7]. No claim can be made on the customary law of relevant rules. We are therefore obliged to accept that the legal regime of islands in customary law coincides with that of the new Convention on the Law of the Sea. This point is very important as Turkey is not a party to any of these relevant conventions and consequently only customary rules are valid in its case.

Greek law 2344/40 "on beaches and coasts"[8], which is no longer in force, refers in Article 11 to "islets, low tide elevation or reef" without defining these geological forms. The term "islet" also exists in the Lausanne Treaty (e.g. Article 6), while the term "rock" exists in other old texts. However, these terms are equivalent to the term "island" in all these texts[9].  Hussein Pazarci, Director of the International Law Division of Ankara University and Head of the Legal Division of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, also has the same view[10] on demilitarization regime[11]. This causes great surprise, as it is completely different from the Turkish positions expressed at the 3rd Convention of the Law of the Sea, which classified islands depending on their size, in order to serve Turkish interests better.

The recent Greek law 2971/01[12] entitled "Beaches, coasts and other provisions", replaced the old one. However, it still contains the same terms, once more without giving any definition. It is easy to understand that the revision of the non-existant term "islet" in the new law does not mean that Greece accepts any distinction or change in   legal regime. Even if this intention existed, Greece as  a party to the new Convention is obliged to follow its provisions faithfully. The most likely is that the person responsible of  drafting it copied the term from the previous law without harmonizing it, as he should have with Article 121 of the new Convention.

The conclusion of all the above is that  both Imia must be called islands. Consequently, any ambiguous and non-existant term, such as islet or rock, or rock-island should not be used.

Greek sovereignty over Imia

The Dodecanese, to which the two islands called Imia belong, were Greek since ancient times. An important  civilization was developed  there. Maritime law was drafted  for the first time,  the famous "Naval Code of Rhodes"[13] , on the main island of the Dodecanese group.  The prosperity of the Dodecanese continued until their enslavement by the Turks. They became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1522 and remained under Turkish sovereignty until when they were occupied by Italy. In 1923, under Article 15 of the Lausanne Peace Treaty Turkey recognized Italian sovereignty over the islands of Astipalea, Rhodes, Chalki, Karpathos, Kassos, Tilos, Nisyros, Kalymnos, Leros, Patmos, Lipsos, Symi, Kos, Kastelorizo, and the smaller islands that depended on them. Article 12 of the same Treaty recognized

 Turkish domination on Imvros, Tenedos, Lagouses and all islands up to 3 nautical miles from the coast of Asia Minor. So, the two islands called Imia with a distance of 3.61 miles from Asia Minor,  were under the Italian control. Moreover, on 28 December 1932 in Ankara Turkey and Italy signed an agreement defining the maritime line (la ligne frontière) of the Dodecanese. Various geographical  points were used  to define it. The joining of all these spots on the map, forms a line which is nearly equidistant to Asia Minor and the Dodecanese.  Many of these points are on the median line and one of these unites the Kardak islands with Kato island (at present  called Cavus) which is close to Asia  Minor. At this  point, it is clear that the Imia complex is on the left of this limit line, i.e. towards the Italian part.

On 10 February 1947, the Paris Treaty returned  the Dodecanese  to Greece. Apart from the main islands, all other smaller ones on the left side of the "border line" were also given  to Greece. The Turkish-Italian borders became Greek-Turkish. The Imia islands also became Greek.. From  the incorporation of the Dodecanese into Greece until today, the Greek state has had the sovereignty over the islands without any problem. Greek citizens were fishing in their territorial sea and were also taking care of livestock living on them. Many Greek and foreign, even Turkish,  maps showed Imia on the Italian side  and then on the Greek one[14].

This is also the reason why these islands were not included in the Turkish side and were not used as defining points for drawing the straight base line that Turkey arbitrarily and illegally imposed  along its continental and insular coasts.  Moreover, since 1984 Greece has undertaken intensive scientific research in the area of Imia without any reaction from Turkey. The European Union described the wider area of  these  islands  as a "source of life" and included it in the CORINNE environmental protection programme. Greek sovereignty was disputed for the first time by Turkey only recently, during the Imia incident which brought two countries at the brink of war.

The Imia Islands  and their territorial sea in international Law

Under international law, the two places called Imia are islands and therefore their regime must be examined only under this heading. Previous Conventions, as well as the recent one on the Law of the Sea, give the same status to islands as to mainland, regarding the size of their sea zones and continental shelf. Article 1 of the Convention on the Continental Shelf says: " For the purpose of these articles, the term "continental shelf" is used as referring  (a) to the seabed and subsoil of submarine areas adjacent to the coast but outside the area of territorial sea, to a depth of 200 metres or, beyond that limit where the depth of the superjacent waters admits of the exploitation of natural resources of the said areas; (b) to the seabed and subsoil of similar submarine areas adjacent to the coasts of islands."

According to the 2nd paragraph of Article 10 of the Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone:  "the territorial sea of an island is measured in accordance with the provisions of these articles." This is also valid in the case of  the contiguous zone, which starts outside. [15]  The maritime zones of islands are measured in exactly the same way  as those of continental areas.

The new Convention on the Law of the Sea, in the second paragraph of Article 121, classes  the islands as mainland, and also refers to their exclusive economic zone. So, according to it "except as provided for in paragraph 3, the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf of an island are determined in accordance with the provisions of this Convention applicable to other land territory." However, this Convention introduces a restriction according to which "rocks  which cannot  sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf".

The breadth of territorial sea in the Aegean is 6 nautical miles for both Greece and Turkey. Of course, it could have been doubled, up to 12 miles, as international law allows. Their contiguous or exclusive economic zones have not been established yet. In the case of Imia, there is only territorial sea as their distance from the other Greek islands and the coasts of Asia Minor does not exceed their territorial breadth and in fact deprives them of their continental shelf[16].

It is well known that continental shelf  begins after territorial sea[17].  Consequently, any reference to the issue of the continental shelf  has no place in this study. The issue that must be examined is the  delimitation of the territorial sea of Imia which coincides with the Turkish one. International law provides that "where the coasts of two states are opposite or adjacent  to each other, neither of the two  States is entitled, failing agreement between them to the contrary, to extend its territorial sea beyond  the  median line every point of which  is equidistant from the nearest points on the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial seas of each state is measured[18]".

  This rule is also customary law and binds all states independently, whether they are parties to the conventions where this provision is codified  or not[19]. Turkey,  under Article 2 of its law 2674 which came into force  on 20 May 1982,  says that the delimitation of territorial sea  can be achieved only following an agreement[20]. At this point, it is worth mentioning that even if Turkey accepted the median line for its delimitation, straight base lines should be used and not the normal base line that Greece uses. However, this line has been drawn arbitrarily along Turkey's  insular and mainland coasts. As a result  some areas  in the Aegean would belong to Turkey, although they are actually Greek territorial sea or even high sea. These areas are rather restricted, but they can give another dimension to Greece's problem with its  neighbouring country[21].

In the Dodecanese, to which the Imia group belongs, there is no legal problem. The 1932 Protocol between Italy and Turkey on sea lines  (ligne frontière) is still in force. As already mentioned, this agreement refers to positions which form a crooked line between the Dodecanese and Asia Minor. The Turkish-Italian Agreement also mentions the island of Kardak, one of the Imia islands, and Kato in order to determine the middle point of the line  at the thirtieth position of the existing Turkish-Italian borders. The Imia group was on the west side of the line, and in the then Italian territories.

 At present, it is part of the Greek territories under Article 14 of the 1947 Paris Treaty. Greece was given that area as it was already delimited and registered. The Italian-Turkish borders became Greek-Turkish, as happened with territorial sea, determined by the limit line. This is a clear case of succession. Greece succeeded Italy in this precise area[22]. These borders are not subject to any discussion even if major changes took place. The Vienna Convention on 23 May 1969 codified all customary law rules on treaties, referred to similar cases and excluded termination of agreements or withdrawal by one party "if the treaty establishes  a boundary"[23].

The Turkish Position

Turks consider Imia  to be rocks with no territorial sea. They claim the same for any other island that they describe as "rock". This is also the reason why the Turkish Air Force violate the national airspace of Greece in the area of the island  of Kalogeri [24].  For them the regime regulated by international treaties[25] refers only to the islands listed, and not to the Imia group which is formed by rocks.  This is also the reason why the regime of "rocks" like Imia is undefined. For the Turks the area of these islands constitutes  the "grey zone"  of the Aegean[26].

Of course, these  views are at best naive. But, even if we take them seriously, they  do not apply to the case, because the group is situated  on the west side of the limit line as  was agreed by  the 1932 Italian-Turkish Agreement. Unfortunately, although Turkey had never before called this agreement into quest - on the contrary it had  reconfirmed it[27] - it is  now refuting  it by using false arguments. In 1996, Turkey  maintained  that the 1932 Agreement was not valid because its ratification procedure was not complete. It was  not registered with the Secretariat of the League of Nations.

The Agreement itself though does not include any provision that sets conditions about its enforcement, as its nature is purely technical. It is simply a text that determines the maritime line of the Dodecanese. It is also a supplementary agreement to that of 4 January 1932  on the area of Kastelorizo (Megisti). Its enforcement was also pointed out and reconfirmed by official correspondence between the then Turkish Foreign Minister and the Italian Ambassador in Ankara[28].

Turks are  also incorrect with their second argument. This agreement is clearly a technical text and in accordance with the decision of the 1st Committee of the Assembly  of the League of Nations of 5 September 1921 it does not need to be registered[29].

After the Imia incident, Greek-Turkish relations became worse. Turkey became more provocative. They claimed many times that the Imia islands are definitely theirs. The Turkish Prime Minister, Tansu  ˛Ciller made a similar statement[30]. She also added that 1,000 islands in the Aegean belonged to Turkey. Later, she increased their number to 3,000 and threatened Greece with war. Any contest was casus belli. Turkish foreign policy is unfortunately based on threats of war[31].  Turkey's reaction is also the same even to a possible enforcement of  the customary right  to 12 miles territorial sea .

The Imia Incident

On the 26 December 1995, a Turkish cargo-boat called "Figen Akat" ran aground on one of the two Imia islands. The captain did not accept the assistance offered by a Greek tug during the detachment procedure as he believed he was in Turkish territorial sea. Finally, the Greek Ministry of Merchant Marine, in consultation with the shipping company, sent a Greek tug which detached the ship two days later, on 28 December, and towed it to the Turkish port of Gulluk. The case was considered closed. However, on 29 December Ankara sent a third-party note to our Ambassador in Turkey, maintaining that the Imia islands belonged to Turkey and were recorded in the land registry of Mugla region. The Greek government, as is normal, rejected the Turkish claims by using  the relevant provisions of the international treaties, with a third-party note dated 10 January 1996.

 The  Greek sovereignty over the Imia group according to the convention and agreements of 1947, 1932 and 1923,  was pointed out. The incident was considered over for a second time. However, the mayor of Kalymnos, on his own initiative, raised the Greek flag on one of the islands on 25 January 1996. Two days later, some Turkish journalists from Hurriyet newspaper arrived by helicopter, took it down and replaced it with  a Turkish one. This action was shown on Turkish TV  and then retransmitted by Greek TV. A day later, on 28 January, a Greek battleship  replaced the Turkish flag with a Greek one[32].

This event was dangerously over-emphasized by the mass media, especially TV channels from both sides. On 29 January  a new Turkish third-party note was handed to the Greeks. The question of Turkish demands on other islands in the Aegean, was raised. However, the islands were not named[33].  On 30 January 1996, Greek and Turkish battleships sailed to Imia, while a team of  Greek divers got off on one of them in order to guard it. The other island  remained unguarded   for inexplicable reasons.

An exercise of the Greek Armed Forces in the Aegean was stopped and an emergency plan was put in force. Early on 31 January, the Turkish frigate Yavuz sailed close to the unguarded  one of the group and stayed there. Turkish TV soon after  that announced that their commandos  had disembarked on the island[34] . A Greek helicopter took off from a Greek battleship and flew many times over the island. This helicopter after accomplishing its mission, was lost.

Two officers and one petty-officer  of  the Greek Navy  were killed. At dawn of 31 January 1996  the incident  ended  through American mediation, and after telephone communications between Prime Minister Simitis, President Clinton, Foreign Ministers Pangalos, Holbrooke,  and Defense Ministers Arseni and Perry. The Greek government was obliged to accept the American proposal for mutual withdrawal from the Imia region  of all armed forces and battleships, as well as flags (no men, no ships, no flags). However, Greece claims that the condition  about the flag was not accepted. The Greeks took the flag with them. The  Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense  stated that after the incident, the Imia islands remained under Greek sovereignty  and no  that obligation for negotiation with Turkey had been agreed.

The fact that both Turkish and Greek forces left from  the Greek territories of Imia was not  a positive development for the Greek side. The agreement, also based on the American proposal, was a fact  which Greece had to accept. An obligatory agreement as there was no other way to reduce tension which could end to a war.

Turkey accepted the results of the incident with pleasure. The Turkish President  Suleyman Demirel stated:  "While tension could turn into an unrest situation, common sense prevailed. Once more we showed how we can handle national issues. Turkey pays great importance to peacekeeping and states its determination to solve problems with neighbours in peaceful ways." The leader of DSP party, Bulent Ecevit, showed his satisfaction. He included the incident  in the general Aegean issue and suggested dialogue between Greece and Turkey on all subjects. The Turkish Ambassador, Umit Pamir in Greece told the  Anadolu Agency  that they were satisfied with the peaceful settlement  of the crisis and that discussions should start immediately in order to find a final solution to the "problem"[35] .

For many days after the Imia incident, the situation remained crucial. The Turkish provocative statements were continuing and the general atmosphere was heavy and dangerous. The fear of similar or worse incidents, or even of  starting a Greek-Turkish war  was strong. A Crisis Estimation Team (Oμάδα Εκτίμησης Κρίσης), a bi-ministerial group, was formed immediately after the event and handled the situation consistently and with responsibility.

It is true that mediation  by the United States prevented a war, but it did not solve the problem - a general problem which is related to Turkey's tendency to create baseless issues.  Its aim is to  cause tension  in the area and so drag Greece into negotiations. The United States of America were happy to have disengaged the two NATO member-states. At the same time they  suggested to both countries  to submit their case on the sovereignty of Imia  to the International Court. Greece adopted  the American advice immediately, as it had no reason not to accept it, since the matter is obvious.

On the other hand, Turkey  knowing that it is going to lose the case, has not yet accepted this proposal.  However, it insists, as in the continental shelf  issue, on starting negotiations. Greece is not against dialogue. Negotiations are one of the best ways to solve international disputes peacefully. In this case though there is no dispute. It is not correct for Greece to accept negotiations in order to discuss how to divide  its legal rights   on the Aegean, especially under the Turkish threat of  casus belli.

 

Conclusions

The Imia group are islands according to general international law. Consequently, all relevant international rules  on islands  that exist and are used to determine the breadth of  their maritime zones and their delimitation, apply to  them.

The limits of the Greek territorial sea and the Turkish ones in  the Imia region are defined by the limit-line (la ligne frontière) described in the Italian-Turkish  agreement of 28th December 1932, as this is still in force  and Greece simply succeeded the Italian state in the area.

Greek sovereignty  over the Imia islands  is an  indubitable fact. It has been proved by international  texts and  by the fact that Greece was exercising its rights undisturbed  by  Turkey until recently (29 December 1995).

The Imia incident was accompanied by general doubts about Greek sovereignty  over many islands in the Aegean. It ended peacefully, after an agreement under threat of war. It was not only the Turks who withdrew, but also Greek soldiers from Greek territory.

Turkey changes its positions depending on the circumstances. It takes into account international law only when this is in its interest. When this is not possible, Turkey gives its own unscientific interpretation  accompanied by threats. Turkey is afraid of referring its cases  to the International Court and tries to obtain positive results through "negotiations"  under pressure of  casus belli.

Greece is a civilized State, faithful to the Principles of the UN Charter and to the NATO. For this reason, it tries to keep its international relations far from actions that could constitute a threat or include the use of violence. However Greece should be ready to face any possible situation. The Greek state is obliged to be ready to enforce its natural right to legitimate defense, should the need arise.

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[1] The Imia incident had very important consequences which were not realized at first sight. Many people did not realize the exact meaning of the Turkish acts   and referred to a war of flags and to disputes without reason e.g. the British newspaper "The Independent" of 30 January 1996.

[2] See also Article 10 of the Geneva Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone.

[3] INTERNATIONAL HYDROGRAPHIC ORGANIZATION, Hydrographic Dictionary, pp 203 and 118.

[4] A/CONF, 62/c.2/l.55. Cf  MARSH J.E. ‘Turkey and UNCLOS III; Reflection on the Aegean', FOREIGN POLICY INSTITUTE, The Aegean Issues: Problems and Prospects, Ankara, Dec. 1989, p. 230.

[5]  U.N. Doc. A/CONF.62/C.2/L.53, 1974

[6] U.N. Doc. A/CONF.62/W.8/Reveiseed Parts I, II & III, 1975, Cf. DYKE J.V., "The Role of the Islands in Delimiting Maritime Zones and Boundary Between Turkey and Greece" FOREIGN POLICY INSTITUTE, The Aegean Issues; Problems and Prospects, Ankara, Dec. 1989 pp249-8.

[7] Cf. BOWETT D.W., The Legal Regime of Islands in International Law, pp. 43-4.

[8] Government Gazette 154 A/40.

[9] EKONOMIDES K., "The Imia Islets of the Aegean Sea: a dispute created by force" (in Greek), pp 22-8.

[10] See: PAZARCI H, The Demilitarization Regime of the Islands in the East Aegean (in Greek ) - EKONOMIDES K., The Legal Regime of the Greek islands in the Aegean - Reply to a Turkish Study, pp. 48-9.

[11] This issue is more general and not related to this study and therefore not examined in it.  Ibid.  pp. 134 et seq.

[12] Government Gazette, 285 A/01.

[13]  SIMPSA M., The  Navy in the History of Greece, vol. 2, (in Greek) pp. 167-195.

[14]  Such as : (a)  British  Royal Admiralty map no 1056, London, March 1995, (b) United States map no. 54418 (prepared and published by Defense Mapping Agency, Washington D.C. Nov 1990, (c) Turkish Geographic Service map no. 18 Seri K613 (Baski 1 - Tuhum - 1969), (d) Official map attached to the 1953 Edition of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Navigation through the Straits, (e) Official ICAO air-navigation map published in Ankara at 1953, (f) Russian map no. 32208, first edition 24 8- 1974, new edition 12-2-1994, (g) Italian Islands in the Aegean Sea, reproduced from map prepared by Instituto Geografico Militare 1928, (h) Annual Report by the Chief Administrator on the British Military Administration of the Dodecanese Islands 1946, (i) Deutsche Heereskarte Ausgabe Nr. 2, Stand 29.-2.-44, Nur fur Dienstgebrauch. Sources: Publishing House of Hellenic Parliament, Athens 1996, "KATHIMERINI" Newspaper of 18 February 2001 and 15 July 2001.

[15]  See Article 24 of the 1958 Geneva Convention on Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone.

[16] Their distance from the Greek islands of Kalolimnos is 1.9  and 2.1 nautical miles, Kalymnos 5.3 miles,  from Asia Minor 3.61 miles and from the Turkish island of Cavus (formerly Kato) 2.3 miles.

[17] See Article 76, paragraph 1 of the new Convention on the Law of the Sea. The 1958 Geneva Convention  on the Continental Shelf contains a similar provisions at Article 1 .

[18]  See Article 15 of the new  Convention on the Law of the Sea.

[19] GEORGAKOPOULOS G., The Greek Territorial Sea, pp. 97-135.

[20]  According to this Article: The territorial sea between Turkey and states that their coasts are in continuation with the Turkish opposite or adjacent one , is delimination upon agreements. These agreements are signed after taking into consideration the special circumstances  and the existing situation of the area  and based on the principle of  equity.

[21] Cf. GEORGAKOPOULOS, op. cit supra,  no. 19  pp. 118-9.

[22] For state succession see ROZAKIS CH, in IOANNOU - EKONOMIDES - ROZAKIS - FATOUROU, Public International Law  (Theory of  Sources), pp. 311 to 317.

[23] See Article 62-2(a) of the Vienna  Convention on the Law of Treaties, Decree 402 of 30-4/23-5-74, Government Gazette 141 A/74.

 

[24] This rocky island is very small and is situated in the middle of the Aegean.

[25] Articles 12, 15 and 16 of the Lausanne Peace Treaty  and Article 14 of the 1947 Paris Treaty.

[26] Cf. KURUMAHMUT A., The Basic Problem of the Aegean:  Litigation of Sovereignty over Islands. See also newspaper Eleftherotypia of 13 January 1998.

[27] This  is proved by official Turkish maps. See: supra, no. 14.  It is also proved by the British Archives  and by correspondence between Turkish and Italian officials. See: infra, no. 28.

[28] These letters were dated 3 January 1933 and 27 June 1933 respectively.Cf EKONOMIDES op. cit. supra, no. 9, pp 31-32.  According also to the British Archives Turkey is wrong once more as there are documents  which show that in 1953 the limit line between the Dodecanese and Asia Minor was accepted. See SVOLOPOULOS K, HATZIVASILIOU E, "The British Archives Contradict Ankara", Kathimerini newspaper of 18 February 2001. The Turkish press also claims that Italy after the incident discovered a letter proving that Turkey had recognised the power  of the Protocol (the Italian-Turkish agreement). This letter was drafted by the then Turkish Foreign Minister  Roustou Aras. The Italians handed the letter to the Turkish Ambassador in Rome, Unal Unsal, who forwarded it to Ankara  and caused quite a stir  in March 1996 according to journalist Yiouneri Givaoglou  of  Milliyet newspaper .

[29]  See EKONOMIDES, op cit supra, no. 9  pp.34-6.

[30]  Eleftherotypia nwspaper, of 31 January 1996

[31]  Provocative statements were made by various Turkish officials.  The Minister  of  Foreign Affairs and Deputy President of the Turkish Government , Deniz Baykal , stated : "Greek occupation of the rock-islands is over" (Eleftherotypia newspaper of 1 February 1996). He also added that there is a legal obscurity re. the rock-islands  of the Aegean, and that the issue should be resolved  by negotiations. Turkey cannot accept that all rock-islands belong to Greece (Rizospastis newspaper, 1 February 1996).

 

[32]  See: EKONOMIDES, op. cit., supra, no. 9 , pp.12-5.

 

[33]  They are possibly the islands described by Hussein Pazarci, Director of the International Law Division of Ankara University and Head of the Legal Division of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in a study on the demilitarization regime of the  islands in the East Aegean.  The Imia islands are also included.  See:  PAZARCI  - EKONOMIDES, op. cit., supra no. 10, pp. 48-9.

[34]  The most popular version is that commandos disembarked from the frigate. Turkish TV showed on the next day Turkish commandos leaving their coasts on rubber boats  and arriving  on an island which was supposed to be Imia and returning from their  after their "heroic achievement". This video is considered to be fake as neither the weather conditions nor the day light were the same with the ones during the incident. Even  the coasts of Imia did not look like the real ones.

 

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