Nikos Kotzias, Greece’s departing Foreign Minister, has stated that Greece is ready to extend its territorial waters from six nautical miles to twelve nautical miles, thus extending Greece’s sovereignty further into the Mediterranean and infringing on the waters and routes to Turkey. This extension of Greece’s territorial waters would stretch westward into the Ionian Sea. The Ministry will first implement the twelve nautical miles around the island of Crete and then, later in time, increase to the twelve nautical miles from the Antikythira to the Saronic Gulf and from the Saronic Gulf to the Pagasitikos Gulf.
The increase in Greece’s sovereignty of territorial waters will mean that any trade routes, fishing lanes, and any future drilling sites will have to be approved by Greek officials before they can begin or continue. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, States that have water borders are granted twelve nautical miles of territorial water. Greece’s extension from six to twelve nautical miles will most likely see pushback from Turkey.
Greece ‘Ready’ to Extend Sovereignty to 12 Miles in the Ionian Sea
Departing Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said that Greece is ready to extend its territorial waters. 6 nautical miles has now expanded to 12 in the Ionian Sea, extending Greece’s sovereignty westward.
Kotzias said that the move constitutes the “first extension of the country’s sovereignty since the Dodecanese became part of Greece in 1947.”
“The country’s sovereignty extends from Othonoi, down to Antikythira,” said Kotzias.Othonoi is a small Greek island in the Ionian Sea, located northwest of Corfu whereas Antikythira is located southeast of Peloponnese.
Kotzias also revealed that the ministry is preparing to extend Greece’s sovereignty to 12 nautical miles around Crete and at later stages from Antikythira to the Saronic Gulf and from the Saronic Gulf to the Pagasitikos Gulf in central Greece.
The move means that all shipping, fishing and future drilling activities within the 12 mile zone must be approved by Greek authorities.
Kotzias discussed these matters at a hand over ceremony where he handed over his ministerial duties to Greek Prime Alexis Tsipras. The PM was sworn in as foreign minister.
Kotzias’ resignation comes over acrimony with the head of the leftist-led government’s coalition partner and Defense Minister, Panos Kammenos.
Both Kotzias and Tspiras expressed excitement over the name deal with F.Y.R.O.M.
“Today is a symbolic and historic day after the decision at Skopje’s Parliament which opens the way for the implementation of the accord,” Tsipras said during the ceremony.
“I am experiencing the paradox of having quit and being happy,” Kotzias said, referring to the passing of the name deal with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia by the Parliament in Skopje on Friday night.
Source: Greek Reporter, Tasos Kokkinidis, Oct. 20, 2018. Photo credit to Greek Reporter.