The draft bill extending Greece's western territorial waters to 12 nautical miles had its first reading at the committee level in Parliament on Tuesday.
"It is the first time since 1947 that the Greek Parliament is called upon to vote the increase of national sovereign territory," Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said, speaking of "an inalienable right of Greece to increase our territorial waters in the Ionian Sea to Cape Tainaro from 6 nautical miles to 12 nm."
The bill extends the national territory by 10,079 square kilometers, or over 13,000 sq.km., "if one adds in the space created by the legal closing lines of bays, according to international law," he said.
As a measure of comparison, the minister said that Greece has a surface area of 131,000 sq.km., and that of Crete is slightly over 8,500 sq.km.
The draft bill is titled "Establishment of the extent of the territorial sea zone in the marine region of the Ionian and the Ionian Islands to Cape Tainaron of the Peloponnese." Prior to its tabling in Parliament last week, a presidential decree was issued on the closing of bays and the delimitation of straight baselines at the Ionian sea area down to Cape Tainaro on the Peloponnese.
Based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (December 10, 1982), Greece said it reserves the right to apply corresponding rights in the rest of its territory.
Plenary discussion and voting on the draft bill is expected on January 19.