Egypt and Greece are at odds with Turkey, which angered the two countries last year by signing an agreement on the delimitation of maritime states with the internationally recognized Libyan government, which has exacerbated the dispute over possible offshore gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean. “It`s a fair agreement and a legal agreement. And this is most important: it is an agreement that clearly shows the international community how illegal, unrealistic the Turkish-Libyan memorandum was, beyond international and the law of the sea,” he continued. The minister also called on Turkey to reach an agreement with Greece. A total of 26 MPs (KKE and Mera25) voted against the agreement. The agreement between Greece and Egypt on the delimitation of the seas is available here (in Greek). This contribution contains some general information, comments on the text of the agreement and the impact of the agreement on the maritime dispute between Greece and Turkey. Second, the precise limits of maritime requirements that overlap with other states in the territories are clarified. “There is now an international dispute that theoretically limits Turkey`s capacity for action,” Syrigos said. The conflict between the Greek-Turkish maritime borders had probably crystallized long before the agreement between Turkey and Libya and the Greece-Egypt agreement. However, the nature, basic principles and exact geographic scope of these overlapping requirements are now much clearer.
This is important to define the geographical scope of UNCLOS`s commitment to “not jeopardize or impede the completion of the final agreement” and restriction obligations under customary international law (see Barrett, Burke et al. in the 2016 BIICL report on state obligations with respect to unrestricted maritime areas). The preamble to the agreement between Greece and Egypt recognizes the relevance and applicability of the Charter of the United Nations and UNCLOS. It refers in particular to the principles of good neighbourliness, cooperation and good faith. The preamble stresses that each party must exercise its prerogatives and jurisdictions in accordance with UNCLOS, which includes Greece and Egypt. UNCLOS provides that an international agreement between the States concerned is the main method of delimiting maritime borders, including the EEZ and the continental shelf (Article 74, paragraph 1, and Article 83, paragraph 1). UNCLOS does not define a method of border determination, but only that delimitation results in a “just solution.” A delimitation contract negotiated and agreed upon is, by definition, in accordance with international law under Article 74, paragraph 1, and Article 83, paragraph 1, of the UNCLOS. In a letter to the UN Security Council on 13 May 2020, Libya said its agreement with Turkey “does not affect the rights of third parties.” However, the map attached to the MoU clearly showed that the presence of Greek islands, such as Crete, Rhodes and Kastellorizo, and related marine areas, had been ignored. In addition, Turkey and Libya have announced energy exploration plans in the areas mentioned in the MoU. The agreement prompted Greece to quickly reach an agreement with Egypt. “This is the absolute opposite of the illegal, unfounded and legally unfounded Memorandum of Understanding signed between Turkey and Tripoli.
After the signing of this agreement, the non-existent Turkish-Libyan memorandum landed where it had its place from the beginning: in the trash. On 6 August 2020, Greece and Egypt signed an agreement in Cairo on the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) that demarcates their maritime borders in the eastern Mediterranean. The latest move was taken after Turkey temporarily suspended the activities of its seismic research vessel Orué Reis in order to create a diplomatic negotiating space with Greece as part of German mediation efforts. In this regard, The recent step of Athens has undermined these efforts and has once again demonstrated the intransigence of Greece. “The agreement with Egypt is an advantageous national agreement, a great national success that corresponds to the efforts of Greek diplomacy for about 17 years.