Greece has the right to conduct energy exploration in its territorial waters, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said, pledging to seek an amicable solution with Turkey on the matter when he visits there in early March.
Hydrocarbon deposits in the Aegean Sea can satisfy some of Europe’s energy needs, Samaras said. He wants all nations to sign the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which allows maritime states to establish areas, known as Economic Exclusion Zones, that extend from the seabed to the surface and as far out as 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) from their territorial-waters limit.
“Greece has the right, by the Law of the Sea, to declare an EEZ whenever it wants,” Samaras told an Athens news conference on Tuesday after meeting with French President Francois Hollande. “Together with Cyprus, we can play an even bigger role in the production of hydrocarbons to supply Europe from European sources.”
Any move by Greece to try to establish an EEZ in the Aegean Sea may raise objections from Turkey, which refuses to sign the UN convention. The two governments have yet to agree on the size of their territorial waters or on the delimitation of the continental shelf between the countries. Several Greek islands in the eastern Aegean lie only 3 nautical miles from the Turkish coast.
“Greece is oriented toward friendship and cooperation with its neighbors,” Samaras said. “We’re making efforts in this direction, and in about 15 days I will visit neighboring Turkey, with other ministers, for high-level meetings.”
Greece will lease two French frigates for oil and gas exploration in the Aegean, a government official told reporters Tuesday.