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Greece to expand territorial waters from 6 to 12 miles from the coastline

Greece is poised to expand its sovereignty after 70 years, ex Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias revealed on Saturday during the handover ceremony to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras who has been sworn in as Foreign Minister as well.

He said that Greece will extend its territorial waters from 6 miles now to 12 miles from the coastline.

Territorial waters give the littoral state full control over air navigation in the airspace above, and partial control over shipping, although foreign ships (both civil and military) are normally guaranteed innocent passage through them.

Kotzias announced that the Greek Foreign Ministry is in preparation to draft presidential decrees  that extend the country’s territorial waters fro 6 miles to 12 miles, from the island of Othonoi in the North Ionian Sea to territorial waters from Antikythera in South Peloponnese to Crete.

Kotzias said that the decrees were now essentially ready.

He explained that the process for extending the country’s territorial waters from six miles to 12 had three steps, all of which were now completed:

“The first step is to close off the bays, the second step is to create base lines everywhere, together with the bays, and the third step, based on these, is to carry out the extension from six to 12 miles.”

“The country is extending itself to 12 miles, except in the narrow places where we will go with the principle of the middle line,” he said.

This would also make things easier for Greece in deciding its EEZ with Italy and Albania, he added, clarifying that Greece was extending its sovereignty in this way because these were not sovereign rights along the lines of the EEZ but represented regular “territorial sovereignty”.

“The expansion up to Antikythera in accordance with the government’s instructions is the first presidential decree,” he said, while the second was almost complete and concerned waters from Antikythera to Crete.

He noted that this will first have to be checked by international cartographers, while that from Antikythera to the Saronic Gulf and from the Saronic Gulf to the Pagasitikos Gulf, including Evia, will need remeasuring.

“The plan is that, by stages, we will manage to complete this as a government,” he said.

He noted that the thinking behind it was that “we should not deprive ourselves of rights” while waiting for negotiations with Turkey on the Aegean continental shelf to be completed.

Kotzias pointed out that extending the territorial waters expanded Greece’s area of national sovereignty and that as a coastal state, Greece would be exercising all its legal rights.

“For our friends and allies for whatever economic or other activity within the territorial waters, they must ask our permission, which they did not do until now, and pay the price foreseen under each agreement,” Nikos Kotzias added.

Kotzias announcement does not include expansion of territorial waters in the Aegean Sea, where they have been the center of dispute between Greece and Turkey for several decades.

Current 6 miles

possible 12 miles

In 1995, The Turkish Parliament has voted that it will consider as casus belli (act of war) the unilateral extension of territorial waters by Greece.

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