Prominent Brits Express Support for Greece in Turkey Standoff

Joint Greek-French naval exercise south of Crete. Photo: Greek Ministry of Defense

Twenty-five prominent academics, authors and politicians called on the British government to express its “clear support” for Greece and Cyprus over the increased tensions in the eastern Mediterranean caused by Turkey’s refusal to accept the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, in a letter to the editor of The Times, published on Monday.

The letter also urges NATO member-states to condemn Turkey’s drilling activities, instead of maintaining a policy of equidistance.

The full letter follows below:

Sir,

We too are deeply concerned by President Erdogan’s escalation of rhetoric and threat in the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean (Erdogan’s Provocations, leading article, Aug 15). Positive developments in energy are an opportunity to build more productive and stable regional relationships, but require all parties to abide by international law. Other regional governments have shown their willingness to negotiate within the framework set by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

The Turkish government’s refusal to accept the convention is a stumbling block — a deliberate attempt by Ankara to deprive island states and states with island interests of their rights under customary international law. Mr Erdogan’s policy is fomenting regional tension. European governments, including Britain’s, must give a clear message of support to states such as Greece and Cyprus that are upholding multilateral rules.

Turkey’s Nato allies need to be unequivocal that Ankara’s provocations are not acceptable. A policy of equidistance between Turkey and Greece in this matter is inappropriate. The only feasible way to reduce tension and bring about stability is through respect for Unclos and processes of international law.

Kevin Featherstone, Professor of Contemporary Greek Studies, London School of Economics
John Kittmer, former British Ambassador to Greece
Alberto Costa MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Greece
Denis MacShane, former Europe Minister
Lord Wallace of Saltaire, Liberal Democrat Cabinet Office spokesman
Roderick Beaton, Emeritus Koraes Professor, King’s College London
Dame Averil Cameron
Paul Cartledge, Professor of Greek Culture Emeritus, University of Cambridge
Professor Richard Clogg
Louis de Bernières, author
Peter Frankopan, Professor of Global History, University of Oxford
Stephen Fry
Timothy Garton Ash, Professor of European Studies, University of Oxford
Charles Grant, Director, Centre for European Reform
David Harsent, author, Fellow of the Hellenic Authors Society
Judith Herrin, Professor Emerita, King’s College London
Victoria Hislop, author, Honorary Citizen of Greece
David Holton, Emeritus Professor of Modern Greek, University of Cambridge
Will Hutton, Principal, Hertford College Oxford
Michael G. Jacobides, Professor of Entrepreneurship & Innovation,
London Business School
Peter Mackridge, Emeritus Professor of Modern Greek, University of Oxford
Sean O’Brien, Professor of Creative Writing, Newcastle University
Ruth Padel, Professor of Poetry, King’s College London
Gonda Van Steen, Koraes Professor, King’s College London
Sofka Zinovieff, author