Egypt and Greece sign agreement on exclusive economic zone and Turkey slams the deal

Egypt and Greece signed an agreement Thursday designating an exclusive economic zone in the Eastern Mediterranean between the two countries, an area containing promising oil and gas reserves, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said.

Shoukry made the announcement at a joint press conference with his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias in Cairo.

“This agreement allows both countries to move forward in maximizing the utilization of the resources available in the exclusive economic zone, especially promising oil and gas reserves,” Shoukry said.

“The agreement with Egypt is within the framework of international law, respects all concepts of international law and the law of the sea and good neighborly relations and contributes to security and stability in the region,” Dendias said.

The countries had been on talks for a while after Turkey and Libya signed two separate pacts; one on military cooperation and the other on maritime boundaries of countries in the Eastern Mediterranean on Nov. 27, 2019.

The maritime pact asserted Turkey’s rights in the Eastern Mediterranean in the face of unilateral drilling by the Greek Cypriot administration, clarifying that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) also had rights to the resources in the area. The pact went into effect on Dec. 8.

Turkey slams deal

However, Turkey on Thursday slammed the deal describing it a “so-called agreement” between Greece and Egypt on exclusive economic zones (EEZ) in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Stressing that Greece and Egypt had no mutual sea border, the Turkish Foreign Ministry declared in a statement that the so-called maritime agreement “null and void” for Ankara.

The so-called demarcated area is located on Turkey’s continental shelf, as reported to the UN, the ministry added.

It also noted that Egypt had already abandoned 11,500 square kilometers (3,350 square nautical miles) of its continental shelf with a previous agreement it signed with the Greek Cypriot administration in 2003.

Egypt is again losing its maritime jurisdiction with the latest so-called treaty, which seeks to usurp Libya’s rights as well, it said.

Turkey will not allow any activity in these areas and will continue to resolutely defend its legitimate rights and interests in the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as those of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, added the statement.