“Greece is Growing” as it Extends Sovereignty to 12 Miles in the Ionian Sea



A huge Greek flag atop the Acropolis. Credit: Martin Lopatka/Wikimedia commons

Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on Wednesday that the country will extend its territorial waters from 6 to 12 nautical miles in the Ionian Sea.

Mitsotakis was speaking during a debate on Greece’s maritime boundaries agreements with Egypt and Italy. The deals will be put to vote on Thursday.

“Greece is growing,” he said and added that a bill will be tabled at parliament which would specify that the country’s territorial waters from the northernmost Ionian islands to Cape Tainaro in the Peloponnese will be extended to 12 nautical miles.

Mitsotakis stressed that the extension of Greek sovereignty westwards is “our undisputed sovereign right, in accordance with Article 3 of the Convention on the Law of the Sea.”

The Law stipulates that out to 12 nautical miles (22 kilometres; 14 miles) from the baseline, the coastal state is free to set laws, regulate use, and use any resource. Vessels are given the right of innocent passage through any territorial waters.

“Innocent passage” is defined by the convention as passing through waters in an expeditious and continuous manner, which is not “prejudicial to the peace, good order or the security” of the coastal state. Fishing, polluting, weapons practice, and spying are not “innocent”, and submarines and other underwater vehicles are required to navigate on the surface and to show their flag.

The Greek Premier also called on lawmakers to ratify “the two emblematic agreements with Italy and Egypt” on maritime borders.

He added that the two agreements were signed a few weeks apart, resolving decades of stalemate with neighboring states, and stressed that they were based on international law.