Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias highlighted the benefits that Greece derives from the demarcation of maritime zones with Italy, as well as the next moves, in an interview with Antenna. He also announced that on June 18 he will go to Egypt with the entire Greek technical team.
“It was planned immediately after the happy ending with Italy, to catch the thread with Egypt again,” he said, as reported by Ethnos.
Focusing on the days leading up to the agreement, Dendias confessed that negotiations over the past 15-16 hours a day had been frantic over the past week and that they ended up last night at around 10:45 a.m., in which he informed the Prime Minister that “we’re done.”
“It took 40 years to sign and now Greece has an Exclusive Economic Zone. And in fact, a perception of the middle line and influence of the islands that is confirmed by International Law, UNCLOS [United Nations Charter Law of the Sea], and the general views that Greece expresses in the international arena. Greece is a consistent country,” said Dendias, answering the question of what Greece benefits from the agreement.
From there and beyond, he pointed out, there is always the possibility of expanding the country’s territorial waters on the basis of a common understanding with Italy.
“But the climate created after this agreement is different,” he said, adding that a number of technical issues had been resolved between our country and the Italians, fully protecting the rights of our fishermen.
“At 6 to 12 miles right now, Italians are fishing with whatever boats they want, whatever they want,” he said, adding that now the “Italians will be fishing with a specific number of boats, a maximum of 68 boats and fishing for four categories of species,” he clarified.
When asked about the Turkish president ‘s frustration with the deal, Dendias said it was to be expected.
“Italy now fully adopts with the signature of its competent minister, the interpretation of international law as perceived by Greece. The islands have their influence, the middle line is there. Only Turkey insists on this one-dimensional view that the islands have no continental shelf, no economic zone and only territorial waters. Turkey does not have a majority perception in international law and that is why it is very cautious to lead things with Greece to a judicial solution, it does not want that,” he explained.
He then thanked the Minister of Rural Development and Food Makis Voridis for the cooperation he had these days during this negotiation. He also expressed his satisfaction, because the “whole Greek political scene or almost the whole stood by this Agreement.”
He further stressed that it is very important for us to be united in these efforts and made it clear that the New Democracy Party is not going to gain party benefit, saying that these are national affairs.
Regarding the corresponding agreement with Egypt, Dendias stressed that this is one of the fixed goals of Greece’s foreign policy, acknowledging that there are difficulties. In particular, he said that it is a complex situation, it has many parameters, both political and legal, emphasising the determination of Greece to try and do the best it can.
He made special mention of Greece’s “very good relations with Egypt”, noting that the two countries have a common understanding of many things.
Answering a relevant question, Dendias said that Turkey seeks an escalation of tension with Greece, wants to achieve concessions on our part by any method and stressed that it will fail.
“We have made it clear to Turkey that we will defend our national interests in accordance with international law. We are not going to give up something that belongs to us. We do not want to take anything that belongs to Turkey,” he said.
Continuing on the same wavelength, the foreign minister said the Greek government would like to have a neighbour with whom it can have a cordial relationship, to be able to communicate, to develop trade, to develop culture, to develop exchanges, and expressed the sadness that a Turkey has with this behaviour.
When asked if he was concerned about the Turkish president’s warning that he would launch an investigation into southern Crete, Dendias said he was concerned that Turkey was announcing actions that were incompatible with international law and the law of the sea and made it clear.
“Crete is a very large island, it is the 4th island in the Mediterranean. Turkey’s claim now that such a large island has no economic zone, no continental shelf and only 6 miles of territorial waters is a challenge to common sense. The Greek position is that all the islands have a continental shelf, EEZ, territorial waters, is a position that is compatible with international law and international customs.”
He accused Turkey of being led into irrationality “and that is why it’s irritated when Italy signs not the Greek views, but the international law.”
When asked to answer what will happen if a Turkish research vessel goes south to Crete, in a place that belongs to us, he categorically stated that there is no Greek government that will cede national rights and that the government will do its duty as outlined by the constitution.
The Foreign Minister made a special reference to his forthcoming visit to Paris, emphasising that he has an extremely important element: issues of Turkey. How Turkish delinquency raises issues not only in Greece, but also in the EU. Then comes the visit to Israel and then to Egypt.