“We reserve the right to extend the territorial waters in Crete and elsewhere when we choose”, said the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in the Parliament during the debate on the bill that extends the Greek territorial waters to 12 nautical miles in the Ionian Sea.
“We are doubling our territorial waters in the Ionian”, the Prime Minister stressed.
“For the first time since the annexation of the Dodecanese in 1947, the Greek territory is enlarged by 10%, not by detachment of territories from other countries. With procedures fully grounded in the Rules of International Law. It was preceded by the first step with Presidential Decree that closed the bays and the delimitation of EEZ. Today at the dawn of 2021 we take the 2nd big essential step. Our country extends its dominance in the Ionian Sea to 12 miles. I had announced the expansion of our territorial waters since August. Four months later our seas there double. A right fully compatible with international law and our country can expand to other areas and in Crete and elsewhere, but at a time and manner that we will choose”, he said.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis made special reference to Greece’s alliances and cooperation with Israel, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
As the Prime Minister said, this is a “clear message that our country sends to those who try to deprive us of what we are entitled to according to the rules of international law”.
“This development did not come by chance”, he stressed and continued by saying that “from the bad management and the old syndromes we proceeded to a dynamic policy. Fewer words more action. Before reaching the doubling of the waters, we had reached successive agreements with Italy, Egypt for the settlement of the EEZ. We closed issues that have been going on for decades and opened a new chapter in bilateral relations and multilateral agreements. The agreements, after difficult negotiations, however, were quickly voted by the Parliament. The agreement with Egypt was soon posted on UN maps with Italy. These are two links of peace and stability in an area that some are trying to oversee. Recently, the Prime Minister of Albania explicitly stated that the extension to 12 miles is an non-negotiable right of Athens, adding another argument that the waters of the Aegean can unite and not divide. Last year, with President Anastasiadis and the Prime Minister of Israel, we signed an East Med pipeline. We have an upgraded relationship with important players of the Eastern Mediterranean. Our foreign policy unfolds in practice on many levels”.
Referring to the election of Joe Biden, Kyriakos Mitsotakis said: “Greece has become a key ally of the United States. Our cooperation with the outgoing government has brought results and with the new government the alliance will become more efficient. I know Biden personally. He is an experienced politician who knows the sensitivities of the region. It moves with prudence and with stable and non-negotiable values. Upon taking office I am confident that Greek-American ties will become stronger than ever. The results today were built on yesterday’s efforts. With a unified policy exercised in the arenas of politics and diplomacy”.
“Turkey must abandon the rhetoric of provocations”
“The objective of water expansion goes beyond local facts. It ensures an accomplished stability and security in the fluid environment of the Eastern Mediterranean. For Greece, the exercise of national law is also an exercise of international sovereignty. The expansion of water to the West also sends a message to the East. Violence does not produce justice. Law produces peace. Therefore, in the same spirit and in the same legal framework, we can settle a big difference with Turkey. As long as the neighborhood leadership abandons the rhetoric of provocation.
“2020 was not fruitful for Greek-Turkish relations. Since 1974 no government has managed so much and at the same time: challenging neighbors in pandemic conditions. Our position is clear from the beginning. The challenges stop, the talks start without Athens forgetting the previous action and the provocative language of Turkey. We approach the discussions with zero naivety. Exploratory contacts are informal non-binding discussions. The goal of our government is to continue from where they left off. More so since the beginning of the recent crisis, Greece has been in favor of dialogue with 2 conditions: ending of the challenges within the EEZ and to catch the thread of discussions again from the point where they stopped in 2016. These 2 conditions are met.
“There is also the fact of the explicit decisions of the European Council and the imposition of sanctions if Turkey does not comply with the terms of the dialogue. There is the Borrell report and there is the corresponding decisive stance of the USA with consequences not only diplomatic but also economic.
“We will gladly discuss in the light of international law the issue that concerns us in defining the EEZ. First of all, I have said that sanctions are not an objective by themselves but a means for the neighbors to return to the path of dialogue. That if the sanctions are imposed, they will harm the Turkish people who want to coexist with the Greek one.
“I declare that no debate can concern national sovereignty and the rights of the country. Nor to challenge international treaties and rules of international law. If we do not agree, I have said we will agree on how we will refer our matter to the International Court of Justice for resolution”.