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Territorial Waters Issue Between Greece And Turkey

Written by Gamze Nur YalçınTerritorial waters are defined by 1982 UN Convention on the Law of  the Sea. As it explained in the law it is a belt of coastal waters extending at most 12 nautical miles from the baseline of a coastal state. Its the sovereign piece of a state. The territorial sea issue between Greece and Turkey begins with this 12 miles. At the moment, the territorial sea distance is 6 miles for both countries. According to the law above, Greece wants to extend its territorial sea distance from 6 to 12. But from that intent in 1995, Turkey characterize this as an act of war or “casus belli” in Latin.

Map of the Aegean Sea

Map of the Aegean Sea

According to Treaty of Lausanne, Turkey and Greece determined their territorial sea level 3 miles. In 1964, Greece and Turkey extended their territorial sea level from 3 to 6 miles respectively. After this increase, because of having approximately 3000 islands, share in the Aegean Sea is 8.8 percent for Turkey and 35 percent for Greece. Nevertheless there had been no problem between these countries about this sharing.

6 Nautical miles current Territorial waters

6 Nautical Miles Current Territorial Waters

Greece demand to increase its territorial sea level to 12 miles makes the sharing %8 for Turkey and %75 for Greece.

According to the UN 1982 Convention on the Law of  the Sea, 12 miles rule is not an obligatory. “12 miles” is maximum  distance of the territorial sea water. So there are some different applications of this rule. For example 20 countries 3 miles, 2 countries 4 miles and 4 countries 6 miles and 81 countries uses 12 miles. It’s controversial that 12 miles is a convention. And it must be regarded that Aegean Sea has unique (sui generis) geographic conditions.  And Turkey doesn’t admit Greece’s claim about 12 miles.

12 Nautical Miles Possible Future Extension of territorial waters under international law

12  Nautical Miles Territorial Sea Level

When a Greek 12 miles territorial sea level accepted, the open sea areas in the Aegean Sea becomes Greece’s territorial sea. So it turns transit passage to innocent passage for other countries and Turkey. Military issues in the Aegean Sea also changes and flights of military air crafts and military exercises will be prevented by Greece. The application of 12 miles makes the Aegean Sea a close sea.

This attempt also eliminates Turkish continental shelf rights. Shortly, if Greece applicants 12 miles, Turkish sovereignty will be restricted and the Aegean Sea becomes in term of “Greek Lake”.

Added by: Gökmen İçel

 
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