Russia confirms it backs Greece's view of maritime law

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Russia's Ambassador to Athens in an interview with APE-MPE, joined the European Union and the United States in saying that islands do have a continental shelf and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in face of Turkey's insistence that they do not.

Russian Ambassador Andrei Maslov, proposed the need for strict observance of international law, the avoidance of provocative actions, as well as the resolution of problems through peaceful means, something that Turkey adamantly refuses to do.

When asked about Turkey's provocative actions in the Aegean and the EEZ of Cyprus, the Russian official stated that "the only beacon for us here is international law. The coastal zone, the continental shelf, the EEZ of the islands, the prohibition of threats or the use of force are self-evident things," characterising the Law of the Sea as the cornerstone of the maritime regime.

Commenting about Moscow's position on the memorandum between Turkey and the Muslim Brotherhood government of Libya to carve up Greece's maritime space between them, Maslov said that Russia is well aware of Greece's position on the memorandum and is in close contact with Athens on the issue.

"Russia has called on the parties to the agreement to show restraint and to take steps that will not further aggravate the situation in Libya and the Mediterranean. We have paid attention to the reaction and the assessment of Greece, Cyprus and Egypt that the memorandum on the delimitation of maritime zones is not in line with the Convention on the Law of the Sea and violates their own interests," said Maslov.

He also stressed that Greece, as a Mediterranean country, which is directly facing the negative effects of the Libyan crisis, has the right to fully participate in the multilateral efforts to resolve the conflict in Libya.

The Russian ambassador then expressed Russia's position on the Libyan issue and took aim at NATO's reckless destruction of Libya in 2011.

"Russia is pursuing a responsible policy in Libya, unlike some other countries whose consequences in the 2011 invasion of Libya in violation of the UN Security Council Resolution and all the chaos that followed we are now living in," he said.

"The priority is to end hostilities and intensify dialogue with the participation of all political forces and social movements in the country. Russia maintains contacts with all parties, without exception, urging them to adopt a constructive approach," Maslov emphasised.

Regarding the "Irini" operation to implement an arms embargo off Libya, he notes that the previous operation "Sofia" was not very successful.

He also expressed his hope that Western countries could stop Turkey's transportation from jihadist-held areas of Syria to the North African country.

"In any case, the new operation must be fully compliant with international law and the legal framework, as set out in UN Resolution 2292, and extend to the entire length of the Libyan coast. We hope that Western countries will also deal with the problem of transporting terrorists, weapons and military advisers from Idlib in Syria to Libya," he said.

Regarding the wave of immigration to the Greek-Turkish border, he noted that two-thirds of the migrants were not even Syrians, but Afghans, Iraqis, and citizens of African countries.

"The key issue is the return of refugees to Syria where peaceful life is being restored," he added.

Regarding bilateral relations between Greece and Russia, the Russian ambassador stressed that both countries are interested in further upgrading relations and seek to contribute to this.

"We believe that co-operation between Russia and Greece has long been a solid foundation for both the economic sector and the cultural and humanitarian sphere. The political dialogue is intense.

Of course, the unprecedented situation of the pandemic, which we are going through, cannot but affect it. However, we are working with our Greek friends in order to continue the implementation of the joint plans," he underlined.

He also spoke of good dynamics in bilateral economic relations, noting that this year began with a rise in bilateral trade - a 4.7% rise in the first quarter - and expressed confidence that there was room for further trade expansion.

Regarding the Cyprus issue, Maslov said: "Russia's position is consistent and unchanging. We will support any solution that is accepted by the Cypriot communities themselves and will be based on the relevant Resolutions of the UN Security Council."