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Greek FM Dendias in Cairo: Agreement with Egypt confirms the rights of our islands

Greece signed a historic agreement “delineating the maritime zones with Egypt,” Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said in Cairo on Thursday, at a joint press conference with his counterpart Sameh Shoukry.

“Today’s agreement confirms and guarantees the right and influence of our islands on the continental shelf and an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ),” Dendias explained, adding that Greek-Egyptian relations are entering a new phase of closer ties. The just and mutually beneficial agreement, he noted, is a model one and important for the entire East Mediterranean.

He also noted that it was drawn in the context of International Law and that it respects its provisions and those of the Law of the Sea. “It also respects good neighborhood relations, it contributes to stability and security in our region, and it resolves an old outstanding issue. It is an agreement between two friendly, neighboring countries that respect their histories,” he said.

Dendias said the agreement also contrasts with the illegal and legally baseless memorandum of understanding between Turkey and the Tripoli government, and said the Greek-Egyptian agreement will relegate it to the dustbin, where it belonged from the start.

Greece, he underlined, with continue to move ahead with delineations with other countries it shares borders with, always respecting International Law and the Law of the Sea. He invited all such countries to follow the example of today’s agreement and that which Greece signed recently with Italy.

Diplomatic sources

The maritime zones agreement between Greece and Egypt signed on Thursday in Cairo took 13 rounds of negotiations and 15 years of talks to be completed, diplomatic sources said.

The agreement comes eight months after the signing of the memorandum of understanding between Turkey and the Tripoli government. Referring to this, the sources commented, “Beyond the practical confirmation of the invalidity of the illegal Turkish-Libyan memorandum, we are establishing our legal rights in agreement with a neighboring country.”

Greece’s diplomatic position is further strengthened, proving clearly that the Turkish claims are absolutely illegal and groundless. Thursday’s agreement establishes that “Libya is now between two absolutely legal delineations,” they added, referring to June’s Greek-Italian and Thursday’s Greek-Egyptian agreements.

As the diplomatic sources added, “The government of Libya has absolutely no legal basis to reject talks with Greece in order to conclude in a legal way the delineation of an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) between us in the region south of Crete. This delineation is the only legal one, and serves both our countries’ interests. What was confirmed was that observing the Law of the Sea is an adequate and necessary condition in delineating maritime zones of countries in the region.”

Greece’s agreement with Egypt also deals effectively with illegal efforts by Turkey to delineate an EEZ with Egypt directly, violating the sovereign rights of Greek islands in maritime zones, the sources added.

PM Mitsotakis welcomes agreement

The Greek-Egyptian maritime zone agreement signed today “creates a new reality in the East Mediterranean and brings legality back to the region,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday from Chalki island, adding that it took “15 years of negotiations to end up with an agreement respecting International Law that recognizes all Greek island rights in their maritime zones.”

Mitsotakis said the agreement was beneficial to both countries, and it re-establishes the legal order that was disturbed by the illegal and groundless Turkish-Libyan memorandum on maritime zones.

Referring to the maritime zone agreement signed in June with Italy, the prime minister said that respecting International Law is the only path to security, peace, stability and good neighborhood relations. “We will walk on this path with all our neighbors; we hope and expect they will do the same,” he stressed.

Ankara reaction

The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement slamming Thursday’s agreement between Greece and Egypt on their maritime zones in the eastern Mediterranean.

It says that the agreed demarcated area is “located within Turkey’s continental shelf” and that the maritime agreement is “null and void for Ankara”.

Diplomatic sources from Greece earlier stressed that the agreement is based on International Law and in full compliance with the Law of the Sea as applied in practice and case law. They also stressed that this agreement confirms Greece’s firm position that Greek islands have sovereign continental shelf rights and Exclusive Economic Zones.

Source: AMNA