“Greece is growing. We are expanding the territorial waters in the Ionian Sea from 6 to 12 nautical miles,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis revealed on Wednesday. He announced this historic decision during the plenary debate for the ratification of the maritime agreements with Italy and Egypt.
With the phrase “nothing prevents our country from extending its territorial waters to 12 miles when it decides to do so,” the prime minister sent a message to Turkey that has been dangerously escalated tensions in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Amid applause by government MPs, Mitsotakis announced that the relevant bill will soon be submitted directly to Parliament and that the extension is based on Article 3 of the International Law of the Sea.
“Greece is growing. Others have said so. But we are the ones who put it into practice. We thus proceed in the exercise of our undisputed sovereign right, in accordance with Article 3 of the Convention on the Law of the Sea, [extending the territorial waters] in the sea area of the Ionian Sea and the Ionian Islands up to Cape Tainaro in the Peloponnese,” Mitsotakis stressed.
He added that the extension is “a right which our country reserves to exercise in the future also in other sea areas, [a right] which our neighbors have already exercised in respect of the Convention on the Law of the Sea and the implementation of the middle line, there where the distance between the coasts is less than 24 miles.”
In October 2018, then Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias had announced the extension of territorial waters along the western Greece, however, the SYRIZA government did not proceed with the materialization, allegedly due to objections by PM Alexis Tsipras.
Mitsotakis revealed further on Wednesday that Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias is to travel to Tirana for talks with Albania counterpart for the demarcation on maritime boundaries between the two neighboring countries, a project that has been worked out in the last few years.
PS It was high time, Greece abandons its defense-only policies and goes ahead with initiatives and actions. Of course, the situation is the Aegean Sea is much different because the Turkish Parliament declared a similar extension by Greece as a “casus belli” – act of war – in 1995.