The much-discussed delineation of the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of Greece and Egypt was on the table at a trilateral meeting between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades on the island of Crete on Wednesday.
Speaking after the meeting, the sixth between the three leaders, Tsipras said that “technical details” remain before Greece and Egypt wrap up talks on the issue that began three years ago.
Government sources said that Tsipras and Sisi agreed that this should happen by the end of the year.
The talks between the two countries have dragged on mainly due to difficulties in delineating zones along the imaginary line running through the islands of Crete, Kasos and Karpathos in the southern Aegean.
The aim of the three countries to form an energy alliance has been opposed by Turkey, whose F-16 fighter jets conducted an overflight over the island of Panagia on Wednesday just before the three men met in the Cretan resort of Elounda.
Ankara is also opposed to Cyprus’s exploitation of offshore gas deposits within the island’s EEZ, claiming that part of the area infringes on Turkey’s continental shelf and that the rights of Turkish Cypriots are being ignored.
Tsipras and Sisi, however, firmly reiterated their support to Nicosia.
“We have clearly expressed our support for Cyprus in its efforts to capitalize on the sovereign rights deriving from international law regarding offshore deposits and to make progress in their exploitation,” Tsipras said, while, in a joint declaration, the three leaders urged Turkey to desist from conducting illegal activities in Cyprus’s naval zones.