Russia’s Lavrov Defends Right to 12-Mile Extension on Territorial Waters, Calls for “Direct Dialogue”



Greek FM Nikos Dendias welcomes his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Athens. Credit: Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who made an official visit to Greece on Monday, declared that every country has a right to extend its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles, in agreement with Greece’s stance on the issue.

Before meeting with his Greek counterpart, Lavrov said that when issues concerning the delimitation of maritime zones arise between neighboring countries, these should be resolved according to international law.

Greece’s Inalienable Rights

Greek Foreign Minister Dendias pointed out that during their meeting that he had made “a special reference to the inalienable right of our country to extend its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles, as provided by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.”

“Russia cannot take any position other than that dictated by the Law of the Sea,” Lavrov stated, adding that any member of the treaty could declare up to 12 miles of territorial waters, taking into account common sense and geographical peculiarities.

The Russian Foreign Minister also stated differences could be resolved “only through negotiations that take into account the interests of everyone.”

“Any problems that arise between the countries must be resolved through dialogue. “No matter how difficult the situation between Greece and Turkey is, we will always be in favor of discussing and resolving these problems through direct dialogue.”

In an interview with the Athens Macedonian News Agency (AMNA) before the meeting, Russia’s top diplomat had been asked about the delimitation of the continental shelf and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) between Greece and Turkey.

He noted that Russia has signed the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1982 and its stance is based on international laws which this contains, including Article Three, which specifies that every state has the sovereign right to extend its territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles from land.

Hagia Sophia of “Exceptional Spiritual Importance” for the Russian People

Referring to Hagia Sophia and its recent conversion into a mosque, Lavrov said that this is a UNESCO World Heritage site belonging to all humanity and has exceptional cultural and historic value, while it is sacred to those of the Orthodox faith in his own country and the whole world.

He added that it has an exceptional spiritual importance for the Russian people.

Lavrov also expressed “serious concern” over Turkey’s decision to open up the beach front in Varosha, in the occupied sections of Cyprus, and made clear that it is against a series of UN Security Council resolutions.

Criticizing the decision, the Russian Foreign Minister sent a message that unilateral actions obstruct efforts to establish a constructive climate and create additional problems for the resumption of negotiations fro bring about a final resolution of the Cyprus problem.

Talks between Greek and Russian delegations, led by the foreign ministers of both countries, took place at the Foreign ministry in Athens on Monday.

Dendias said in a post on Twitter “In our meeting we reaffirmed the historic bonds between Russian and Greece and we discussed the strengthening of our relations and our cooperation.”

The two foreign ministers also signed a Joint Memorandum for an educational project called “Greek-Russian History Year 2021”.