NEWS

Athens EEZ agreement with Cairo ‘creates a new reality,’ says PM

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The deal signed Thursday between Greece and Egypt, designating their exclusive economic zones in the Eastern Mediterranean, has ushered in a new reality based on international law, according to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

“[The deal] creates a new reality in the Eastern Mediterranean as it restores legality in the region, a legality that the illegal and groundless Turkey-Libya memorandum sought to challenge,” Mitsotakis said.

“With Egypt, as we did with Italy a few months ago, we showed that abiding with international law is the only path to security, peace, stability and good-neighborly relations,” he said.

The deal was signed in Cairo by the two countries’ foreign ministers Nikos Dendias and Sameh Shoukry. 

The deal essentially cancels out the Turkey-Libya memorandum signed last year which designated maritime borders between the two countries at the expense of both Greece and Egypt.

Echoing the PM’s sentiments, Dendias hailed the “mutually beneficial deal” which is based on the principles of international law and the law of the sea, adding that it would contribute to regional stability and security. “Today’s agreement confirms and consolidates our islands’ right to a continental shelf and exclusive economic zone,” Dendias said while denouncing the Turkey-Libya memorandum as void and legally groundless. “It has ended up in the garbage bin, where it always belonged,” he said.

As expected, Ankara rejected the Athens-Cairo deal, with its Foreign Ministry saying it is null and void, as it includes the area of Turkey’s continental shelf, while also violating Libya’s maritime rights.

Nonetheless, Greek diplomatic sources said Thursday’s agreement is part of a broader strategy of settling bilateral outstanding issues, building alliances with third parties in a way that promotes national interests based on respect for international law. 

The same sources stressed that it is a balanced agreement, fully in line with the Law of the Sea as it has been applied in practice and in case law.

“Our firm position that the islands have sovereign rights of continental shelf and EEZ is solemnly confirmed… the influence of our islands in sea zones is secured,” one diplomatic source said, adding that the message sent out in all direction is that Greece does not make illegal agreements, nor does it force other countries into agreements.

“We hope that Turkey and Libya will understand and harmonize with this reality so that all related outstanding issues can be resolved,” the source said.