Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Demographic decline in Greece

In a new law voted yesterday, Greece will pay 2000 euros to the parents of every newborn to reverse depopulation, an economic and national security issue. In 2008-18, births declined from 118,302 to 86,440. Deaths increased from 107,979 to 120,297. The pop deficit last year was 33,857.

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Why Greece is key to US plans to sell more natural gas to Europe

An abridged version of this article was published by Al Jazeera International

ATHENS, Greece - Two geostrategic energy alliances are crossing swords over southeast Europe and the eastern Mediterranean. Between them, they plan billions of dollars’ worth of competing infrastructure projects. The ones that succeed will create the regional energy map of the future, and 2020 is shaping up to be a pivotal year in deciding their fate.

On one end of the piste stands the Russian-Turkish energy alliance, which seeks to boost Russia’s natural gas exports through new pipelines, and Turkey’s status as an energy transit hub to Europe. On the other end stands the rapidly advancing Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) industry and its new champions, the Unites States, Israel, Egypt, Cyprus and Greece.

Both alliances are vying to sell natural gas to the European market, which has undertaken the world’s most ambitious decarbonisation programme. Over the next decade, Europe is forecast to bridge its transition from coal to renewable energy by importing increasing amounts of natural gas.

Greece, Israel, Cyprus, move forward to build East Med pipeline

This article was published by Al Jazeera International.

ATHENS, Greece - The governments of Greece, Israel and Cyprus on Thursday signed an agreement to build a pipeline that could supply Europe with four percent of its annual gas needs by the middle of the decade.

“Today we did not simply sign a beneficial agreement. We sealed our resolve for a strategic connection between our countries in a region that now more than ever needs growth and security,” said Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

The agreement is a statement of political will, but it is now up to the construction consortium, led by the Public Gas Corporation of Greece (DEPA) and Italy’s Edison, to find the roughly 6bn euros ($6.7bn) the pipeline is estimated to cost.

Greek tour of Arab capitals to shore up support in territorial standoff with Turkey

This article was published by Al Jazeera International.

ATHENS, Greece - Greek foreign minister Nikos Dendias embarked on a tour of Arab capitals on Tuesday to shore up Muslim support for Greece in its latest diplomatic standoff with Turkey over maritime borders.

The dispute was sparked by Turkey’s signature on November 27 of two maritime jurisdiction memoranda with the Government of National Accord in Libya. They award Turkey and Libya an area Greece claims as part of its islands’ maritime territory.

Dendias began his tour in Riyadh on Tuesday, where he met with Saudi king Mohammed bin Salman. “We have a common understanding that these memoranda create a problem in the broader region,” said Dendias. “We shall continue to monitor the situation and be in touch to co-ordinate initiatives.”

Saturday, 14 December 2019

Turkey flexes muscle as Greece and EU stick to international law

This analysis was published by Al Jazeera International.

Greek-Turkish relations have been thrown into a new diplomatic crisis since November 28, when Turkey announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Libya delimiting their maritime boundaries. 

The memorandum traces a corridor of water between the Turkish and Libyan coasts that cuts across what Greece views as its islands’ maritime area.

At stake are national prestige and the prospect of hydrocarbons. Greece and Turkey have not delimited their Exclusive Economic Zones, which allow countries to exploit undersea wealth. Cyprus, Israel and Egypt, who have delimited their EEZs, have all discovered offshore gas fields that can power their economies for decades.

Alarmed by Turkish statements that Turkey would send ships to look for oil and gas in its new dominions, Greece reinforced its military garrison on Crete and told Turkey that its drillships would be sunk.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Greece's letter to the UN Security Council


Ref No. 90.2.2/3065
                                                                                                                 New York, 9 December 2019


The Greek Government has been informed that a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Republic of Turkey and the Government of National Accord-State of Libya, on delimitation of the maritime jurisdiction areas in the Mediterranean”, was signed on 27 November 2019. This agreement was concluded in bad faith and in violation of the rules of the International Law of the Sea on maritime delimitation because, first and foremost, Turkey and Libya have neither overlapping maritime zones nor common boundaries and, consequently, there is no legal basis to lawfully conclude a maritime delimitation agreement. Likewise, the agreement disregards the presence of the Greek islands in that maritime area, including the island of Crete, and violates their right to generate maritime zones, as any land territory, as Article 121 of the UNCLOS clearly stipulates.

Furthermore, the boundaries of the purported continental shelf and exclusive economic zone”, as they are defined in the text of this agreement, are fictitious, unlawful, arbitrary and provocative, and openly infringe on Greece’s sovereign rights in that maritime area, thus seriously endangering regional peace and stability.

What is also striking in the above agreement is that, in spite of the declared position of Turkey that Greek islands in the Eastern Mediterranean have no weight for the determination of the maritime boundaries in that area, the drafters of this agreement have used Turkish islands and rocks as base points for the construction of the purported ‘equidistance line’, as stated in article 1 para 3 of the said agreement and shown in the annexes thereto. This shows the hypocritical and contradictory stance of Turkey concerning maritime delimitation in the Eastern Mediterranean.

In addition, this agreement is null and void since it was not endorsed by the House of Representatives of Libya, as required by Article 8 par. 2 (f) of the Libyan Political Agreement of 2015, approved by the United Nations Security Council through Resolution 2259 (2015). Likewise, this agreement was unequivocally rejected by the President of the House of Representatives of Libya, Aguila Saleh Issa, in a letter sent to the United Nations Secretary-General.

Given that the said agreement is in clear violation of the letter of the Libyan Political Agreement and, as was mentioned above, it endangers regional peace and stability, its conclusion should be urgently brought to the attention of the Security Council. In this respect Greece wishes to recall paragraph 19 of Resolution 2259 (2015), which refers to the implementation of the Libyan Political Agreement, including acts that disrupt or prevent its implementation.

The Greek Government expresses its strong opposition to the unlawful delimitation aimed at by the above agreement, which illegally overlaps on zones of legitimate and exclusive Greek sovereign rights, and rejects it in its entirety as null and void and without any effect on its sovereign rights.

On this occasion, Greece wishes to reiterate its strong commitment to resolve any delimitation issue with neighbouring countries in the Eastern Mediterranean by peaceful means, in good faith and in accordance with the international law of the sea. It was in that spirit that Greece and Libya started some years ago to negotiate, in line with the provisions of the UNCLOS, a maritime delimitation agreement, which, however, was disrupted because of the unfortunate events in that country. Negotiations are also currently taking place between Greece and Egypt regarding the delimitation of their common maritime boundaries.  

In the light of the above, Greece requests the Security Council to condemn the conclusion of the said Memorandum which blatantly contravenes international legality and call on the two States concerned to refrain from any action that would violate the sovereign rights of Greece, or would escalate tensions in this region.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.

                                                                                                                  Maria Theofili
                                                                                                         Permanent Representative

H.E. Mrs. Kelly Craft
Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations
President of the Security Council for the month of December 2019

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Greece and Turkey closer to armed conflict, say experts

This article was published by Al Jazeera International.

ATHENS, Greece - Greece and Turkey have come closer to armed conflict after Turkey’s surprise delineation of an Exclusive Economic Zone with Libya, experts tell Al Jazeera.

The agreement, signed on November 27 and unveiled on Thursday, maps out a corridor of water stretching across the eastern Mediterranean between the coasts of Turkey and Libya, cutting across a swath that is also claimed by EU member Greece.

EEZs allow countries exclusive rights to exploit natural resources including mineral wealth.