Greece, Italy Maritime Deal “Model of Cooperation” in the Mediterranean

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio (left) and his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias sign the agreement in Athens on Tuesday.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Wednesday hailed an agreement on maritime boundaries signed between Greece and Italy on Tuesday as “a model of cooperation and good neighborly relations.”

Speaking in Parliament, he added that “(The agreement) describes the extent of the maritime zones that can be exploited and acknowledges in the most formal manner that islands have the same sovereign rights as continental land masses.

“It is also a decisive contribution to peace and stability in our region. Greece and Italy have shown how two neighbors can transform the sea around them into calm waters of progress and development. I hope that similar agreements will be reached in the region, among other countries as well,” Mitsotakis added.

The agreement between Athens and Rome on the delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ), which removes a 40-year pending issue, is in full compliance with the rules of international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

According to a statement by the Permanent Mission of Greece to the UN, one of the most important features of the agreement is that it confirms the right of the islands to their own maritime zones.

It also confirms the median line of the 1977 agreement on the delimitation of the continental shelf between Greece and Italy as a borderline between the Greek-Italian EEZ. Consequently, that median line will also apply to the superjacent waters of the continental shelf.

“This is an extremely important agreement, a development of historical significance for our country,” the statement says.

A Joint Declaration of Greece and Italy on the Resources of the Mediterranean was also signed today. With this declaration, the two states express their commitment to a balanced and sustainable management of these resources and agree to hold consultations to assess the impact of various factors on the existing practices of fishermen of the two states.

Also a Joint Notification was signed, addressed to the European Commission, requesting the amendment of the regulation on common fisheries policy so that, when Greece decides to expand its maritime zone to 12 nautical miles, the existing fishing activity of Italian fishermen in the area between 6 and 12 nautical miles, which is now within international waters, will be maintained.

“What is of paramount importance is the reference, within the agreement, of the right to expand our territorial sea everywhere,” the statement reads.

It also adds that the existing fishing rights of Italian fishermen are described restrictively, both in terms of the number of vessels and the species they can fish, which are excluded from the species Greek fishermen are allowed to catch.