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Greece mulls extending territorial waters in eastern Crete

Anadolu Agency WORLD
Published January 19,2021
REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

Greece is planning to extend its territorial waters in the eastern part of the Crete Island, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a parliament session discussing draft legislation to extend the country's territorial waters in the Ionian Sea, Dendias said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis also talked about the extension of Greece's territorial waters in Crete months ago.

"And, of course, Crete includes the eastern part. We are planning to extend our territorial waters in eastern Crete," Dendias told lawmakers.

Main opposition Syriza lawmaker George Katrougalos in the discussion asked Dendias which issues will be discussed between Turkey and Greece in the 61st exploratory talks starting on Jan. 25 in Istanbul and criticized the government for expressing different opinions on territorial waters.

"It is not possible to follow a line other than the policy determined by the prime minister. No Greek prime minister will negotiate the territorial waters issue because it is a matter of sovereignty and not a matter of negotiation," responded Dendias.

Dendias also claimed that Greece does not have to negotiate its territorial waters with any neighbor country.

"Neighboring countries understand our implementation of our right. Italy knew that Greece would expand its territorial waters, and this does not mean that Greece negotiated with Italy. Just like Albania has fully exercised its rights without asking Greece."

In August, Mitsotakis said the government was planning to submit a bill to double in size Greece's territorial waters in the Ionian Sea.

In the future, Greece could also extend its territorial waters in other maritime areas, he added.

In mid-1990s, Greece similarly attempted to extend its territorial waters in the Aegean Sea to 12 miles, but scuttled the plan after Turkey declared such a move would be a casus belli or cause for war.

Turkey and Greece are due to start bilateral exploratory talks on Jan. 25 in Istanbul to resolve their disputes.

Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected maritime boundary claims by Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, stressing that the excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.

Ankara last year sent several drill ships for energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting its rights in the region, as well as those of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed that Ankara is in favor of resolving outstanding problems in the region through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue and negotiations.