Greece seeks EU condemnation of Turkish marine borders deal at summit

Greece is seeking wider support from the European Union and hopes EU leaders will issue a statement condemning Turkey for its maritime borders deal with Libya, Kathimerini newspaper quoted Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas as saying.

Leaders of the bloc are meeting at a two-day summit in Brussels starting on Thursday. A draft statement revealed by Reuters addresses three issues raised by the Greek government – condemning what it calls Turkish provocations in the eastern Mediterranean, explicitly stating that the Libya-Turkey pact has no legal basis, and declaring the EU’s unconditional support for member states Greece and Cyprus.

“There is a framework for contacts between the prime minister, Greek diplomacy and other countries, inside and outside of Europe, to isolate Turkey diplomatically over its illegal actions under international law,” Petsas told Greek TV channel ANT1.

“These three things will provide a protection so that all other EU agencies as well as EU ministers can specify a framework for handling Turkish provocation, even with sanctions, if needed.”

Turkey’s pact with Libya sets out maritime boundaries that overlap with areas claimed by Greece and Cyprus, with the areas claimed by Turkey running close to the Greek islands of Cyprus and Rhodes.

Ankara says the pact is legally valid and that it will block attempts by foreign states to carry out economic activities in the areas it has claimed. Turkish officials say the agreement aimed to prevent faits accomplis in seas where Greece, Cyprus and Israel had planned to build a pipeline to carry gas to Italy.

But Greek judge Christos Rozakis, who is currently serving as the president of the Administrative Tribunal of the Council of Europe, said in an op-ed for Kathimerini that Turkey’s moves were “in blatant violation of international law”.

Turkey has blocked Greece’s claim to extend its exclusive economic zone based on the coasts of Rhodes, Karpathos, Kasos and Crete, restricting the Greek area to a 6-nautical sea mile zone off these islands, Rozakis said.

This contravenes Article 121 of the UN’s Convention on the Law of the Sea, which states that “all islands – with the exception of certain uninhabited rock formations – are entitled to a territorial sea, a contiguous zone, an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and a continental shelf,” he said.

The draft statement that Greece hopes EU leader will endorse will say “the Turkey-Libya memorandum of understanding on the delimitation of maritime jurisdictions in the Mediterranean Sea infringes upon the sovereign rights of third states (and) does not comply with the (UN) Law of the Sea,” according to Reuters.

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