Greece not interested in Turkish views on maritime borders - Greek Foreign Ministry

The Greek foreign ministry has said the country will take international law and not Turkey’s views on the matter into account in delimiting its exclusive economic zone, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported on Thursday.

“The delimitation of the Greek EEZ in its entirety will be determined based on international law and certainly not by taking into account unsubstantiated and arbitrary theories adopted by the violator of international law, Turkey,” the ministry said in a press release on Thursday.

The statement comes after strong statements from Turkish officials this week warning Greece not to unilaterally extend its territorial waters in the Aegean, where Turkey and Greece control opposing coastlines.

After tendering his resignation last week, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said his country was ready to extend its maritime borders from six to 12 miles along its western coastline. Such an extension will make Greek official approval necessary for any economic activity in the extended area.

The move will not affect Turkey’s area of interest in the Aegean, but Turkey remains wary of further Greek plans to extend its exclusive economic zone.

Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hami Aksoy made a statement on Tuesday referring to a 1995 Turkish parliamentary declaration that if Greece unilaterally expands its territorial waters it would serve as casus belli, or cause for war.

The Turkish Defence Minister, Hulusi Akar, warned on Wednesday that the Turkish military would not allow any “fait accompli” in the Aegean Sea or the Eastern Mediterranean, where further tensions exist between the two countries over the island of Cyprus.

The Greek statement on Thursday’s remarks on international law likely refers to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, according to which states may extend their maritime borders to 12 nautical miles. While Greece is a party to the convention, Turkey is not.

Tensions have been running high this year between Turkey and Greece in the Aegean, where rhetoric on both sides has increased over disputed islets, and in the Eastern Mediterranean, where Turkey and Greece support competing claims over the extent of the Greek Republic of Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone.

The Turkish navy intervened after a Greek frigate harassed a Turkish surveying vessel conducting research near Cyprus this month, Turkish press reported.