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.

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Greece, Turkey, set for showdown over maritime boundaries

This article was published by Al Jazeera International. 

Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are set to hold a tense meeting on the sidelines of the NATO summit in London on Wednesday.

Relations between the historic rivals have been tense since Turkey announced on Thursday that it had reached an agreement with Libya to delineate their maritime economic interests.

A map published by Turkey shows the Turkish and Libyan Exclusive Economic Zones meeting midway across the Mediterranean, over an area that is also claimed by Greece.

“I shall put to President Erdogan all the issues relating to Turkish provocation,” Mitsotakis told his colleagues according to a press release from his office. “We will talk openly. And it is in Turkey’s interest to retrench from provocative moves.”