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Greece Signals Intent to Extend Territorial Waters in Crete

PM Mitsotakis announces that Greece reserves the right to extend territorial waters in Crete and elsewhere.

Greece reaffirmed on Wednesday its intention to extend the country’s territorial waters to 12 nautical miles in Crete.

Speaking in Parliament, during a debate on a bill delimitating maritime borders between Greece and Italy, PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis said:

“Greece can obviously also exercise this right around Crete but at a time, in a manner and under the conditions of its own choosing.”

He added that Greece retained the right to exercise corresponding rights other parts of its territory.

Turkey has warned that an eastern extension of Greece’s territorial borders would be a “casus belli,” or cause for war.

The bill on maritime borders between Greece and Italy will extend Greece’s coastal zone (territorial waters) to 12 nautical miles in the Ionian Sea and the Ionian Islands to Cape Tainaro in the Peloponnese.

It follows an agreement signed between the two countries on June 9, 2020, and is an extension of a 1977 accord which paves the way for the two countries to explore for and exploit marine resources in the area.

Mitsotakis said the country was expanding its sovereign territory “neither by annexing (foreign) territory, nor at the expense of other states, but by following procedures that are based on international law.”

He was referring to the United Nations Law of the Sea, which gives Greece the right to extend its sea borders to 12 miles.

Greece growing again

“It was the first form of territorial reference to Hellenism after 400 years of enslavement. A region that became part of the Kingdom of Greece in 1864.

“Today, over a century and half later, Greece is growing again in the same region,” he said.

Mitsotakis added: “Today, in early 2021, we are taking the second substantial step and our country is extending its sovereignty in the Ionian Sea to 12 nautical miles.”

The extension of the coastal zone is based on Article 27 of the Constitution, as it concerns a change in the borders of the State, for which a law is required that is passed by an absolute majority of all the parliamentary deputies.

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said earlier that “This draft law has the unanimous support of the political forces of the national Parliament, so I believe that the moment has a historic aspect and I would like to thank the political parties for their cooperation.”

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