Greece will not relinquish one inch of territory, says Greek president

Greece wants to live peacefully with Turkey but will not relinquish any of its territorial rights, President Prokopis Pavlopoulos said on Friday in a speech in Thessaloniki, Kathimerini newspaper reported.

“Greece reserves the right to shield its islands and fully exercises all its sovereign rights, including the right to extend its territorial sea, based on international and European law,” Pavlopoulos said, adding the same is true for Greece’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). 

"We invite Turkey to live in peace [with Greece], but we will not relinquish an inch of our rights,” he said. 

Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Friday that Turkey did not need to take advice from Greece regarding the delimitation of maritime jurisdiction under the international law.

“As regards the delimitation of maritime jurisdiction areas, Turkey, as was the case before, will continue to act in line with the equitable principles and all relevant special circumstances,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said in response to question over a previous Greek Foreign Ministry statement made on Thursday.

“In this vein, there is no advice that we would take from Greece over the delimitation techniques within the framework of international law,” he said.

The Greek foreign ministry said on Thursday that Greece would take international law and not Turkey’s views in delimiting its exclusive economic zones in eastern Mediterranean.

“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.

Disputes over territorial rights for exploring natural gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean has refuelled tensions between Turkey and Greece this year.

The historical conflict between Turkey and Greece over maritime borders has resurfaced after Turkey announced this month that it would start exploratory drilling for hydrocarbons off the coast of Cyprus. Turkish navy last week reportedly prevented a Greek frigate from interfering in the activity of Turkish seismic and drilling vessel.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias who resigned last week, said on Saturday that his country was ready to extend its maritime borders from six to 12 miles along its western coastline.

All fishing and future drilling activities within the 12 mile zone in the Aegean will need the approval of Greek authorities, in case Greece unilaterally expands its maritime borders in east Mediterranean.

Turkish Foreign Ministry warned Greece on Tuesday by referring to a 1995 Turkish parliamentary declaration that if Greece unilaterally expands its territorial waters it would serve as a cause for war.

"We are in favour of settling matters through peace and negotiations, without turning it into a close conflict in any way,” Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Wednesday regarding relations with neighbouring Greece.

Greece says it has the right to extend its territorial waters under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Turkey is not a part of the convention, which allows states to extend their maritime borders to 12 nautical miles.