ATHENS — "This draft law has the unanimous support of the political forces of the national parliament, so I believe that the moment has a historic aspect and I would like to thank the political parties for their cooperation," Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said on Tuesday, starting the debate before the plenary of the Hellenic Parliament on extending Greece's territorial waters in the Ionian Sea to 12 nautical miles.
The parliament plenary has decided to dedicate two sessions, on Tuesday and Wednesday, to the debate on the bill for the "Determination of the extent of the coastal zone in the Ionian Sea region and the Ionian Islands up to Cape Tainaro in the Peloponnese".
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the other political leaders will address the parliament on Wednesday.
"It is a special honour for me," Dendias said "in the name of Mitsotakis' government, to table this bill in parliament. It is, as you are aware, the first extension of national territory since 1947, we are talking about 10,079 sq km and if we add the closing of the bays, it exceeds 13,000 sq. km," he said.
The foreign ministry's draft bill on "Determination of the extent of the coastal zone in the Ionian Sea region and the Ionian Islands up to Cape Tainaro in the Peloponnese" introduced to the Greek parliament plenary on Tuesday for debate and voting.
Once passed, the bill will extend Greece's coastal zone (territorial waters) to 12 nautical miles in the sea area of the Ionian Sea and the Ionian Islands to Cape Tainaro in the Peloponnese.
The extension of the coastal zone is based on Article 27 of the Constitution, as it concerns a change in the borders of the State, for which a law is required that is passed by an absolute majority of all the parliamentary deputies.
The definition of the extent of the coastal zone in the Ionian Sea is based on the Convention on the Law of the Sea and Article 3 thereof, which states that each coastal State has the inalienable right to extend its territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles. The bill was preceded by the issuance and entry into force of a Presidential Decree, which closes off the sea bays and draws straight baselines.
As noted in Article 1 of the draft law, the Hellenic Republic reserves the right to exercise in the other regions of its Territory, its respective rights, as they derive from the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.