Greek Foreign Minister Yorgos Katrougalos in an interview with the state-run Anadolu Press Agency on the eve of his visit to Turkey declared that Ankara cannot be excluded from energy-related issues in the Eastern Mediterranean.
It is unclear which part of Turkey’s Exclusive Economic Zone the minister was referring to as all drilling so far has occurred in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Republic of Cyprus, which has said that their proportional share of eventual revenues will be set aside for Turkish Cypriots, pending a Cyprus settlement.
«How can one exclude Turkey from an area in which it has a coastal line of many kilometres?» Katrougalos was quoted by Anadolu as saying.
While defending the rights of the Republic of Cyprus to drill for gas and oil in its own EEZ, Katrougalos said “of course that doesn’t signify a monopoly over the whole Eastern Mediterranean area”.
Mentioning Greece’s and Greek Cypriots’ cooperation with third parties (Egypt, Israel, Lebanon] in the area, Katrougalos said they would want Turkey to be involved in such discussions, “which takes into account international law” regarding the disputes between the two sides,” Anadolu reported.
Katrougalos also underlined Greece’s intense interest in jump-starting Cyprus settlement talks.
«We want the negotiations to begin. But they should be negotiations that have a chance of reaching an agreement, and not just for the sake of negotiating. We are committed to this because we want a solution for the Cyprus issue,» he said.
In an unprecedented move, Katrougalos said that Greece has “an inalienable sovereign right to expand our territorial waters in other areas” suggesting that Athens will not extend its territorial waters in areas over which Ankara disputes Greece’s sovereignty.
«We have decided to expand our territorial waters in the Ionian Sea because it is part of our effort to delimit our EEZ [Exclusive Economic Zone] with Italy and Albania. We consider that it is our inalienable sovereign right to expand our territorial waters in other areas,» Katrougalos said.
Katrougalos was quoted by Anadolu as saying there is «a practical and immediate reason» to begin from the west part of the country, but he did not elaborate.
Main opposition New Democracy has said that extending Greece’s territorial waters only in the Ionian effectively bows to Turkey’s disputation of Greece’s sovereign rights in other parts of its EEZ, including the Aegean.