Samaras wants peaceful solution to dispute with Turkey over Aegean oil and gas

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras insisted on Monday that Greece wants to settle its differences with Turkey in the Aegean peacefully but accused Ankara of calling on international law to defend its rights without having committed to it.

Samaras was speaking at the Athens Energy Forum, organized by Kathimerini and the International Herald Tribune, for the first time since Athens contacted the United Nations to complain that Turkey had been issuing permits for hydrocarbon exploration in areas that also covered the Greek continental shelf.

“We want to settle peacefully and on friendly terms and based on the Law of the Sea our differences with Turkey over the possible discovery of hydrocarbons in the Aegean,” said Samaras.

The Greek Foreign Ministry sent last Thursday a note verbal, a diplomatic message, to the UN to “safeguard Greece’s stance in defense of our country’s sovereign rights, in accordance with customary and conventional Law of the Sea, and specifically the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982)” in relation to Turkey issuing permits for exploration in the Aegean.

A day later, the Turkish Foreign Ministry defended Ankara’s actions. “The permits issued by Turkey from 2007 until now to [the state-owned oil company] TRAO concern [territories] within boundaries of the Turkish continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean,” a statement said, adding that Turkey has a sovereign right to carry out drilling in the area.

Samaras pointed out that Turkey was calling on sovereign rights when it had not ratified the Law of the Sea.

“As a country, we are referring to international law, which we have signed, but Turkey refers to it without having signed,” he said.

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