“It’s much too sweeping a statement that these sea areas all belong to Greece alone,”: Professor Nele Matz-Lück

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In this photo provided on Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, by the Greek Defense Ministry, worships from Greece, Italy, Cyprus and France, participate in a joint military exercise which was held from 26-28 of August, south of Turkey in eastern Mediterranean sea. Turkey on Monday, Aug. 31, accused Greece of "piracy" and warned it will stand up to Athens' alleged efforts to militarize islands near its coast.(Greek Defense Ministry via AP)

Ankara may be a sabre rattling offensively [in the dispute over Mediterranean borders] but Athens’ maximum claim on the undersea gas is not fully covered legally either, says Nele Matz-Lück, professor of international law at Kiel University.

She’s a specialist on the international law on the sea and a judge in the constitutional court of Schleswig-Holstein state.

On the conflict over sovereign sea areas of small Aegean islands and the seabed resources Nele Matz-Lück says, “Turkey has a good point”.

She points out in an interview with the highly respected daily Süddeutsche Zeitung that the borders of the Turkish continental shelf – the main dispute – but also the borders Greece claims for its exclusive economic zone are unclear.

“It’s much too sweeping a statement that these sea areas all belong to Greece alone,” she said.

“Territorial waters are part of state area. Ships of other nations are only allowed to move through them peacefully, they are not allowed to prospect for raw materials there.

“By rule of thumb the continental shelf is the extension of the mainland on the seabed. Every coastal state is entitled to a continental shelf of at least 200 nautical miles [370.4 kilometres]. But that’s difficult because of the Aegean geography.

“At stake on the continental shelf is the right to extract resources like oil and gas. The exclusive economic zone is relevant to fisheries and wind turbines. But for an exclusive economic zone a state must have declared that it claims such a zone for itself. Greece has so far made no such declaration for the eastern Aegean.”

Professor Matz-Lück believes that if an arbitration board were to consider the tiny island of Kastellorizo, less than three kilometres from the Turkish coast, it would be most unlikely to rule completely in Athens’ favour. The line would not be drawn midway between the two.

Athens is claiming an exclusive economic zone many hundred times as large as Kastellorizo.

Maritime law and common law also provide for continental shelves and exclusive economic zones to islands. “Whether the islands and their sea zones would be fully taken into account in any delineation between Turkey and Greece is unclear. Efforts are under way in a court proceeding to find a just solution in differentiating between continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.”

The legal basis for all this is the 1982United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which Ankara has not signed.

Source: Nes Kosmos

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