QA-31, 23 November 2022, Statement of the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Tanju Bilgiç, in Response to a Question Regarding the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Fields of Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue signed between Greece and Egypt on 22 November 2022
Maritime search and rescue regions are service areas aimed at saving human life. According to international law, these areas are not areas of sovereignty.
The rules governing search and rescue areas are established by the 1979 Hamburg Convention. In cases where the service areas overlap, countries are obliged to cooperate with each other according the Convention.
Maritime search and rescue regions declared by Türkiye and Greece in the Aegean and Mediterranean and notified to the International Maritime Organization overlap with each other. Greece has always refrained from cooperating with Türkiye on this issue and has also rejected agreement proposals that we have made in the past. This stems from the unlawful Greek position to regard search and rescue service regions as areas of sovereignty and thus to make a connection accordingly to further its maximalist maritime boundary claims.
This approach of Greece is illegal as it is in contravention of the 1979 Hamburg Convention.
Therefore, it is not possible to attribute any meaning beyond these facts to the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Greece and Egypt. On the other hand, it is a grave contradiction for a country to sign a memorandum of understanding on search and rescue in the Eastern Mediterranean which puts innocent people’s life at risk and pushes them back in the Aegean in violation of international law.
In fact, the main motive behind Greece's signing of this memorandum of understanding is its desire to whitewash these facts and the latest scandal it caused in Libya.
The attempt to shape Greece's domestic and foreign policy within the framework of anti-Türkiye sentiment is a futile and only self-destructive effort.
Türkiye will continue to resolutely protect both its own rights and the rights of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus by increasing cooperation and coordination with all key stakeholders in the Eastern Mediterranean and beyond. Probably, this is the reason for the recent hysteria in Greece.