Dear friends, goodevening from Athens
and welcome to our company,
from wherever in the world, you are watching us.
We are here again with you for one more night
to keep you company and talk about geopolitical issues.
This is the 21st episode of the series «Geopolitical Developments»
and today we will speak about Greek-Turkish relations
but in a different way than we are used to.
Tonight we will talk about "Geography in the Aegean"
and this means that today's episode
will be more educational and training.
It will be a lesson where we will say and explain
what is the territorial waters
or national territorial waters
or otherwise coastal zone.
At the same time we will refer to the maritime boundaries
of Greece and Turkey as well as in some other details.
These issues are absolutely essential be understood
if someone wants to have a complete and clear picture of Greek-Turkish relations.
Although we had announced that we would talk
and about the continental shelf,
we'll do that in the next episode.
Let's also mention that the information,
that is, the data that we have gathered,
is mainly from the websites of...
the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
the Hellenic National Defence General Staff,
and from the wikipedia website.
So let's begin our episode.
Territorial waters we call the extension to the sea
of the national sovereignty of a country over its coasts.
This maritime space is national territory
and the coastal country
has full authority and sovereignty over it.
This is the map of the Aegean Sea.
On the one hand, on the left,
we can see Greece with Athens as its capital
and on the other hand, on the right,
Turkey, with Ankara as its capital.
The Aegean Sea is the maritime space
between these two countries
and almost all the islands in it are Greek.
Specifically and to be precise,
the only 2 islands that belong to Turkey are:
Imbros and Tenedos.
All the rest belong to Greece.
We will not refer today either to historical facts
or to specific islands and island complexes.
Let's start from the national borders of Greece
and which are related to national territorial waters.
First of all I'll take you back to the 80's.
When I was a kid and going to school.
As a kid and student, I had learned in the lesson of geography,
for the land borders in the north of Greece,
where Greece bordered with Albania,
For the maritime boundaries between Greece and Turkey,
I knew or rather believed
that was the red line that we see right now on our map.
I believed that this red line was the border
that no one could break in.
It was like the door of our house
where no one can get in
unless we open the door to allow it.
I was wrong.
And of course, at this point you will be wondering,
how bad grades i had in geography class at school.
So let's take a look ...
Here are my grades in geography of the 1st year in high school.
And these are my grades in geography of the 2nd year in high school
As you finally saw, I was probably not that bad
but the opposite .... i was very good ...
And yet I had the idea, i believed,
that these are the borders of Greece and Turkey.
And that was until the late 80's
when I learned and understood exactly what is finally happening.
So let's go look at them one by one
and let's first look at what the Greek state is saying
about the maritime boundaries of Greece and Turkey
First of all it is stated that the boundaries are clearly delimited
and in fact in 3 "sectors" and with 3 different ways.
1) The boundaries at the mouth of the Evros estuary, 3nm from the land,
are delimited based on the Athens Protocol
that compiled in 26 November 1926.
2) The boundaries that starts after the 3 nm, that we mentioned above,
that is, from the south of Evros till the islands of Samos and Ikaria,
that is to say, till the Dodecanese,
have been delimited based on the rule of equal distance (midline)
between the opposite coasts,
since there is no any specific signed agreement
between Greece and Turkey.
As you can see on our map,
this concerns the islands:
3) The boundaries that starts south of Samos,
that is to say, its about the Dodecanese,
are delimited based on the Italy - Turkey Agreement
that was held on 4 January 1932
and aslo by the Italian - Turkey Protocol
that was held on 28 December 1932.
When the Dodecanese came under the occupation of Greece by Italy,
then Greece as a successor state
holded the terms of the agreement & the protocol
as on the boundaries delimitetion.
These are the maritime boundaries of Greece & Turkey.
But where I was wrong ...
My mistake was that all this maritime area of the Aegean Sea
that we see on our map with the light blue color...
...doesn't belong to Greece.
So the red line that I believed that were the borders
is not single but intermittent
so ships from any country, like Turkey,
can sail freely.
Let's look at it and so to understand it.
Territorial waters. 6 nautical miles.
Each island in the Aegean Sea has its own territorial waters
that currently extend to 6 nautical miles from its shores.
So as we can see on this map,
the dark blue color is the maritime space,
around every island but also as you can see
and from the coastline of mainland Greece,
which is 6 nautical miles from the coast and is Greek.
These are the territorial waters.
The national territorial waters of Greece
or otherwise the coastal zone.
The distance of 6 nautical miles from the coast
of either island or of the continental country
is the territorial waters.
All the rest maritime space with the light blue color
is international waters.
It does not belongs to Greece.
Let's take a look at an example we've seen before with the island of Lemnos.
Here we see the island of Lemnos
and now we will see its territorial waters which is
the maritime space 6 nautical miles from its shores.
Over the 6 nautical miles are international waters
and Greece has no sovereignty over them.
But let's take a look at an example of the 2nd case
that we mentioned earlier for the boundaries from Evros to Samos.
What happens when the distance of the sea
is less than 6 + 6 nautical miles that each state is entitled to.
Let's take, for example, the island of Lesbos.
Here we can see that the distance between Lesvos and Turkey
is about 10 nautical miles.
In this case the principle of equidistance/midline applies
since as we previously said there is no any Greek Turkey agreement.
So Lesbos at this point has territorial waters of
5 nautical miles
and Turkey the other 5.
Let's also look at the 3rd case that we mentioned
about the islands south of Samos.
In the case of the Dodecanese,
for example in the island of Kos,
as mentioned earlier the 1932 Italy-Turkey Agreement applies.
So as you can see on the map
there are international waters that create "maritime passages"
- we could call them like this -
and in these waters, any ship can sail freely.
This is why we often see
and also Turkish warships sailing in the Aegean Sea
and approaching mainland Greece
but also to declare maritime areas
by the Turkish side
to carry out naval military exercises.
And of course in those waters which as we said are international
can sail freely and merchant ships.
And because Greece is at a crucial crossroad between 3 continents,
the daily maritime traffic of merchant ships in the Aegean Sea is enormous.
It's enormous the number of merchants crossing the Aegean Sea
and shipping goods from Asia, Africa and ofcourse Europe.
Territorial waters. 12 nautical miles.
Let's see now what exactly is happening
with the expansion of territorial waters.
The Greek State states
that it has the right to extend
its national territorial waters,
that is, its coastal zone,
from 6 nm that is at the moment,
up to 12 nm
and that this right derives
from the United Nations Convention
on the Law of the Sea,
according to the customary rule.
It also states that this right
and cannot be disputed
by other states.
This means that Greece has the right
to increase its territorial waters
from 6 nautical miles off the coast to 12.
So, for example, seeing the island of Lemnos again,
its territorial waters will be double.
Looking at the island of Lesbos we see that
the territorial waters will be double
but only to the side considered international waters
and ofcourse not to the Turkish side.
The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea
was ratified by Greece in 1995
and since then it has not extended its territorial waters.
but "stated explicitly that it reserves the right to exercise this right at any point in time."
What will happen if Greece increases its territorial waters to 12 miles?
For example, let's look at our map the area at the island of Kythera.
As you can see the maritime passage
that now exists as international waters
would stopped to exist.
Let's have a look at the area between Amorgos, Leros, Astypalea, Kos.
The same would happen here....
Let's look and the area between the islands of Lesbos and Chios.
Here the distance between the two islands is about 24 nautical miles.
So this maritime passage would be completely closed
or a small part of it would remain.
But why Greece has so far
not expanded its territorial waters.
In 1995, the same year that Greece
ratified the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,
Turkey, by a unanimous resolution of the Turkish National Assembly,
threatened and threatens Greece with war
if Greece extents its territorial waters over 6 n. m.
This is the so-called "causus belli".
However, as mentioned on the page of the Greek Foreign Ministry
and the Hellenic National Defence General Staff
Turkey has already expanded its territorial waters to 12 nm.
in the Black Sea and in the Mediterranean.
It is also noted that the vast majority of the coastal countries
around the world have made this 12 nm extension.
Let's stop here and point out something.
Many times you have seen Turkish warships
reach near the Attica region
and even cross the Kafirea Strait.
As you can see on our map, there are no international waters there
but under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea
a ship can make an "innocent passage"
at the territorial waters of another state.
As we can read at the wikipedia website...
Passage is innocent so long as it is not prejudicial to the peace,
good order or security of the coastal State.
Such passage shall take place in conformity
with this Convention and with other rules of international law.
We point this out because
even if Greece expands its territorial waters to 12 nm
and to "close" some of the sea "passages",
as we said before,
it really doesn't matter.
Marine traffic will remain free
and Turkey's worries that it will not be able
to enter the Aegean are unfounded.
Ofcourse, let's not forget that the extending to 12 nautical miles
of the territorial waters is a completely legal right of Greece.
Ofcourse one matter that will happen and Turkey does not want
is that within these 12 nm.
Greece will have full sovereignty and authority,
such as research on natural resources
but also right to whatever lies on the seabed and the sea
and of course we mainly refer to fishing.
This was our today's episode about the territorial waters.
An episode mainly of geography
but also of reference to international conventions.
In our next episode we will talk about the continental shelf.
At this point dear friends, we have reached at the end of the episode.
Let me thank you for watching us.
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I wish to you all to have a great weekend.
Goodnight to everyone.