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AA 22/07/20: Turkey blocks Greek confinement bid in Aegean Sea

Using tiny islets as excuse, Greece seeks to expand continental shelf to thousands of miles.


Turkey has rejected Greek plans of expanding its continental shelf through islets in the Aegean Sea and confining Turkey to the Anatolian peninsula in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

As part of the country's hydrocarbon exploration activities, Turkey announced new seismic research activity in the Eastern Mediterranean via NAVTEX (navigational telex) starting July 21, 2020.

Using a small islet a few miles away from Turkey’s coast as an excuse, the Greek Foreign Ministry alleged that Turkish drill ship Oruc Reis has violated its rights in the Eastern Mediterranean continental shelf.

The Greek statement is based on its maritime principle according to which islets are viewed as "mainland", however, such views do not correspond to international law.

The principle of equidistance does not hold value in the context of delimitation of exclusive economic zones (EEZ) and continental shelves in international law.

The fundamental rule in both international law and the UN Convention on the Law of Sea is based on the principle of equal sharing. This principle enables islands to have relatively less area of continental shelf and EEZ, in fact, the islands might even get completely surrounded. At this point, there are multiple factors taken into consideration, such as the size and location of these landscapes, and their distance to the mainland.

In addition, the marine space the Turkish vessel is set to explore falls under the continental shelf Ankara administration declared to the UN and license blocks granted to Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) in 2012.

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