Athens.- (GreekNewsOnline, ANA-MPA)
In joint statements with Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio after the signature of an agreement on Tuesday between Greece and Italy for the delimitation of the two countries’ maritime zones, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said it was a “historic moment” and an agreement that established the rights of islands to maritime zones, as well as securing their respective fishing rights.
“Our country’s steadfast goal is still to delimitate the maritime zones with all our neighbours, in the framework of international law,” Dendias said, stressing that the boundaries of maritime zones cannot be delineated selectively and arbitrarily as “some attempt to use the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)”. He also highlighted, once again, that the Turkey-Sarraj agreement was invalid.
“Relations with Italy are at a very good level, a fact that is sealed with the signature today of the agreement to delimitate the maritime zones between the two sides. An agreement that confirms the right of islands to maritime zones, and the mid-line of the 1977 agreement for delimitating the Greece-Italy continental shelf,” Dendias said.
He also pointed to the protection of fishing rights under the deal, thanking Rural Development Minister Makis Voridis for his cooperation in the relevant negotiations.
During a meeting with Di Maio at the Greek foreign ministry, Dendias also spoke about the escalation of illegal actions on Turkey’s part, such as the recent publication of a Turkish oil company’s applications to drill for oil and gas within the Greek continental shelf and the region generally. “These actions, combined with an aggressive rhetoric, amply demonstrate Turkey’s destabilising role,” Dendias said.
“International law determines the red lines and these must be respected,” he added.
Regarding Libya, the two sides called for a political solution via the UN and the Berlin Process, while Greece hailed the new Egyptian initiative. They also discussed the European prospects of the Western Balkans, which both countries support on provision that conditionalities are met.
Dendias and Di Maio spoke about the pandemic and the return to normality, with the Italian minister briefing Dendias on the epidemiological situation in Italy.
“Greece is lifting the restrictions starting from next Monday and up to the end of the month. Greece expects our Italian friends to spend their holidays in our countries this year, as in the previous years,” Dendias said.
The agreement signed with Italy is the first agreement that Greece has signed regarding its Exclusive Economic Zone and was drawn up on the basis of UNCLOS.
It confirms the right of islands to a maritime zone, the 1977 mid-line for the Greek-Italian continental shelf as the boundary of the Greece-Italy EEZs and, with Tuesday’s agreement, for the waters above the continental shelf.
Also signed on Tuesday was a Greece-Italy Statement on Resources in the Mediterranean, in which the two countries pledge their dedication to a balanced and sustainable management of these resources and agree to consultations to determine any repercussion of various factors to existing fishing practices of the two states.
Lastly, they signed a joint notification to the European Commission with which the two countries ask for the future modification of the directives on common fisheries policy so that, when Greece decides to extend its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles, existing fishing activities by Italian fishers in the region between 6-12 nautical miles, which are currently classed as international waters, can continue.
The existing rights of Italian fishing boats are described clearly and restrictively, both as regards the number of ships and the kinds of fish that can be harvested, exempting species that Greek fishing craft fish for.
FM Di Maio
The agreement on the delimitation of maritime zones between Greece and Italy signed on Tuesday is “a historic moment” for the two countries, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio said in a joint press conference with his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias.
The agreement, di Maio said, will strengthen “a historic friendship that is coordinated in European and international fora” towards a great, Mediterranean region where the two countries play a leading role.
“I am pleased because today we were able to sign, Greece and Italy, the delimitation of maritime zones, as well as two legal documents for the Mediterranean’s natural resources and the protection of historic fishing rights,” the Italian Foreign minister said, while Italy is showing it also respects Greece’s sovereign rights.
Di Maio also expressed appreciation for the Greek government’s and people’s support during the pandemic, with specific donations, and for Greece’s collaboration in the Next Generation EU program for the revival of the European economy currently under proposal.
He expressed appreciation also for Foreign Minister Dendias’ assertion that Greece will lift restrictions for tourists from Italy by the end of the month, while Italy was prepared to welcome tourists itself.
Referring on the migration issue, he recalled the collaboration with Greece and said the new EU agreement under discussion has to distribute migrants equally among member states. He also expressed Italy’s concern about Libya and said that his country believed in political, not military, solutions, and fully supported politicial talks at the Berlin Conference. In addition, he reconfirmed his country’s support for the European naval operation Irini, saying that the focus should not be on supporting one side only but on the end of the conflict, with an arms embargo included.
The agreement between Greece and Italy delimiting their maritime zones proves that the two countries can change the sea they share into a peaceful one, serving as a model in the region, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Tuesday after the agreement’s signing, adding, “It’s a good day for Greece, Italy, Europe and the entire Mediterranean.”
Mitsotakis said the agreement ends an issue that has been outstanding for the last 40 years, and it is in full accord with Internanational Laws and the UN’s Law of the Sea.
The agreement, he noted, “describes the extent of maritime zones being developed, and, naturally, recognizes sovereign rights for all territories, whether land or island ones. It is a model of collaboration and good neighborhood relations, and a decisive contribution to peace and stability in the region.”
The Greece-Italy agreement for the delimitation of the two countries’ maritime zones was first negotiated by the SYRIZA government, said Syriza MP responsible for foreign relations George Katrougalos on Tuesday, welcoming the signing as positive.
In a statement, the former foreign affairs minister elaborated that the agreement is “part of (Syriza’s) comprehensive strategic diplomacy plan that included expanding territorial waters in the Ionian Sea and agreeing on an Exclusive Economic Zone not only with Italy but also with both Albania and Egypt.”
He noted that the main opposition party will study “its effects on islands and fishing rights in the waters there,” and called for the “immediate expansion of territorial waters in the Ionian Sea.”
Additionally, he stressed that the diplomatic effort to conclude an EEZ agreement with Egypt should continue, as the latter key to Greece’s defense of its national interests. Syriza and party leader Alexis Tsipras will back this national effort, Katrougalos added, but this must be pursued “via a systematic strategy that is currently lacking,” and called for a meeting of political leaders to discuss the matter.