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Politics

Greece to Enter Exploratory Talks with “Sincere, Constructive Stance”

January 14, 2021

ATHENS — "The neighbouring country is returning to a resumption of exploratory contacts. The Greek government, as it has clarified from the beginning, is coming to the consultations with a sincere and constructive attitude in order to put an end to a pending issue, the delimitation of the maritime zones that has plagued bilateral relations for decades," government spokesperson Christos Tarantilis said during a press briefing on Thursday.

"This development comes as a culmination of our foreign policy and is a justification for the government policy for many and serious reasons," Tarantilis said and explained:

"First: from the beginning, Greece had boiled its position down to the phrase repeatedly stated by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis: when the provocations stop, talks can begin. And we are now at this very point. Turkey has withdrawn the "Oruc Reis" from the areas that overlap with the Greek continental shelf and has requested the resumption of exploratory contacts, which, as has been announced, will begin in Istanbul on January 25."

"Second: The 61st round of exploratory contacts is a continuation from the point at which they were interrupted in March 2016 and will have as its object the delimitation of maritime zones (continental shelf and Exclusive Economic Zone) in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean.

"Third: Lately, Greece – proving in practice its commitment to international law and in particular to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) – proceeded to an agreement on the delimitation of maritime zones with Italy and a partial delimitation with Egypt. It has also agreed to launch talks with Albania on a joint referral of the maritime demarcation to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

"Fourth: During the same period, our country secured a series of decisions from the European Council that adopt the Greek positions, express solidarity with Greece and Cyprus and send a clear message to Turkey that, if the provocations continue, there will be a European reaction with economic repercussions.

"Fifth: By pursuing an active foreign policy, Greece concluded, at the same time, a network of agreements with countries in the Arab world and the Eastern Mediterranean, which strengthen its regional position.

"Sixth: The government has prepared a law that is already being debated in Parliament and will be passed next week and is expanding its territorial waters from six to 12 nautical miles in the Ionian Sea. Declaring at the same time – as explicitly mentioned in article 1 of the bill- that it reserves the right to also exercise in the other parts of its territory its respective rights under the UNCLOS.

"Seventh: During the same period, the government launched actions for the immediate strengthening of the deterrent capacity of our Armed Forces.

"It has proceeded – among other things – with an agreement for the purchase of a squadron of 18 French Rafale fighter jets and the bill concerning its approval is being voted on later in the day in Parliament."

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