Greece’s territorial waters and Turkey.
Coastal states are entitled to claim a territorial sea, extending to a maximum of 12 miles measured from the coastal baselines. This customary rule is stipulated by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. (UNCLOS)
The right to extend territorial waters is a sovereign right which can be
unilaterally exercised & is not subject to any kind of
restriction/exception & cannot be disputed by 3rd countries.
All islands, however small & insignificant, can generate a territorial sea of 12nmi.
Greece, a coastal state with over 6,000 islands, the longest coastline in Mediterranean and the 11th longest coastline in the world (13,676 km/8,498 mi), is the ONLY one of the world’s 149 coastal states not to have extended its territorial seas to 12 nautical miles.
Greece is a traditional maritime nation. The Greek-owned fleet
represents nearly 21% of the global merchant fleet capacity, yet Greece
has the SMALLEST maritime area of jurisdiction in the world.
The breadth of Greece’s territorial sea is currently set at 6nm.
Since the 1970s, all coastal states in the world have expanded their territorial waters to 12nm.
Turkey itself has extended its territorial waters to 12nm in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean already since 1964.
Turkey has not ratified UNCLOS & claims to be a ‘persistent objector’ to the conclusions of the treaty; However,by extending its territorial sea to 12nm in other regions & benefiting by the rule itself,Turkey lost its right to be considered as a persistent objector in this regard Greece has for decades been consistently regurgitating that the extension of its territorial sea is a unilateral inalienable sovereign right that will be exercised when and if it is deemed appropriate. Realizing the consequences of a Greek territorial sea extension, Turkey in 1974 declared that a Greek decision to expand its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles would constitute a casus belli (reason for war)
The threat of war is in blatant violation of a fundamental rule of intl
law, namely Article 2.4 of the UN Charter, which stipulates that all
member-states shall refrain from the threat or use of force against the
territorial integrity or political independence of other states.
Ankara claims that a Greek extension of its territorial waters would be
to deprive Turkey from her basic access rights to high seas.
This is of course an untenable claim as under the Law of the Sea, the right of innocent & transit passage is fully safeguarded and even expanded.
UNCLOS safeguards Turkey’s access to high seas from her territorial waters. Even if Greece extends its territorial sea to 12 n.m Turkey will never cease to enjoy the freedoms of the high seas, enshrined in Article 87.
The right of innocent passage is already being used in the Aegean archipelago in the 6nm territorial waters. Ships from other countries already can move unperturbed through Greek territorial waters and through narrow passages between the islands.
Commercial shipping always prefers the shortest sea route regardless of
whether it is sailing through the territorial waters of a state.
There are many equivalent geographical circumstances all over the world. ⬇️
📍Ships from 7 Baltic states have to cross Danish/Swedish/German territorial waters to reach the North Sea.
📍50% of the oil that is shipped by tankers passes through the Strait of Hormuz between the Persian Gulf/ Gulf of Oman.
No country has dared question the right of Iran and Oman to extend their maritime borders to 12 miles just because ships navigating through this strategically important passage would have to pass through the respective territorial waters of these two countries.
Turkey is however questioning Greece’s legal right with a threat of war;
Not because it has legitimate concerns but because it wants to control
its surrounding seas and eventually to control new energy resources.
⬇️ Turkey wants to limit Greek sovereign rights in the whole of the Aegean, in contravention of international law and as such, making claims against Greek maritime sovereignty through its illegal Blue Homeland doctrine.
The Blue Homeland is a national revisionist strategy independent of international rules, which is invoked with the sole criterion of what they deem to be in Turkey’s best interest. In adhering to the Blue Homeland, Turkey implements an expansionist energy policy. Turkey’s principle aim is to exploit the natural resources of the Aegean seabed, as well as to enclave the islands of the Eastern Aegean in an area of Turkish jurisdiction.
Enclaving the Greek islands would have ‘disastrous consequences’ for the orderly management of maritime resources, policing and public order’ of the region. On the other hand, an extension of the Greek territorial waters would also restore the uniformity of the Greek sovereign zones, as the Greek airspace remains at 10 nm, and would remove another bone of contention between the two countries.
Turkey’s casus belli violates basic principles of intl law. This Turkish stance concurrently undermines the allied relations which should exist between states belonging to the same Alliance and goes against the basic principles on which NATO is founded. Greece, despite the recent provocations, is open to dialogue with Turkey however has made clear that it will defend, with determination its territorial integrity and all sovereign rights by every possible means, at great cost to anyone that challenges the above.
Credits to Ictinus @ictinus_uk