US senator Menendez criticizes Turkey under Erdogan

Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez has criticized Turkey, saying that its current leadership is not committed to the principles of democracy and rule of law

Greece US Senator
Greece US Senator

Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez, speaking during a visit to Athens Friday, criticized Turkey saying its current leadership is not committed to the principles of democracy and rule of law.

Menendez, the Democratic senator from New Jersey is in Greece to attend events celebrating Greece’s 200th anniversary of independence from the Ottoman Empire from which the Turkish republic emerged.

“We all aspire for a Turkey that is a bridge between east and west, a strong NATO ally, a secular government committed to the principles of democracy and rule of law,” Menendez said in brief statements after meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. “Unfortunately, under (Turkish) President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan that has not been the reality, so we must deal with the reality that we have.”

Neighbors and fellow NATO members Greece and Turkey have long been at odds over a series of disputes, including territorial rights in the Aegean Sea that separates the two countries, and over energy exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean. Relations have been tense over the past year, particularly over exploratory drilling rights in the Mediterranean areas Greece claims as its own exclusive economic zone.

“Turkey has issued, in violation of all rules of law, a threat of war against Greece if it exercises its inalienable right for the expansion of territorial waters of (its) islands,” Dendias said in his remarks. “It is the only country in the international community that has issued a threat of war, casus belli, against another country.”

Reporters were not allowed to be present for the statements and the two did not take any questions from the press.

Greece says it maintains its right to extend its territorial waters from the current six to 12 nautical miles around its Aegean islands. Turkey has said such a move would constitute a cause for war, arguing it would block its own access to the Aegean. In January, Greek parliament voted to extend its waters along its western coastline, on the other side of the country, to 12 miles.

Greece’s western coastline faces Italy and borders Albania at its northern tip. But the expansion was aimed at asserting the country’s right to implement the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which set the 12-mile limit in 1982.

“We believe in the context of international law, so therefore we believe that each country’s rights and its exclusive economic zones need to be observed. We believe that when there’s conflict, different issues, they need to be resolved under the rule of law and in the appropriate forums and not by force,” Menendez said.

“We have an inflection point in global history at this time. It is a choice between two different views,” the senator said. “One that we share, that promotes democracy, human rights, the rule of law, fulfillment of the individual dream, and that permits open societies in which to achieve that. The other is an authoritarian view that oppresses people, ultimately seeks to coerce economically nations, and undermine of the rule of law, both at sea and elsewhere.”

After his meeting with Dendias, Menendez met with Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, who awarded him with the Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer at the Presidential Palace.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in