Greek-Turkish Relations
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"Everybody's looking for hydrocarbons, except us!"

With great public participation, both live and online, the joint event of the SE Energy Institute and the Athens Bar Association (DSA) took place on Monday, January 29, 2024, at the National Research Foundation (NRF) in Athens. on the issue of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Greece. All the speakers agreed on the capital importance of the EEZ for our country but also on the harmful, for our national interests, delay in its establishment.

The event was opened with his introductory remarks by the President and Executive Director of Event Southeastern Europe Energy Institute, Mr. Kostis Stambolis, who underlined the criticality and timeliness of the discussion on the EEZ, especially after the recent referral of Greece to the European Court of Justice for non-compliance with its requirements marine spatial planning.

As the President of the Southeastern Europe Energy Institute pointed out, this discussion "may not be liked by some, as it can be seen as undermining the current foreign policy, especially after the signing of the Athens Pact with Ankara. The promotion of the EEZ issue creates discomfort for those who support a tactic of selective concessions and appeasement against Turkey's constant and largely absurd claims against Greece".

The Vice President of the Athens Bar Association, Mr. Alexandros Mantzoutsos and the Assistant Professor National Technical University of Athens, Attorney at the Supreme Court and Member of the Executive Board of the Southeastern Europe Energy Institute referred to specific legal aspects of the EEZ and the Reef, respectively, in their introductory comments. , Mrs. Eugenia Giannini.

The first part of the event followed, moderated by Mr. Christos Dimas, Vice-President of the Southeastern Europe Energy Institute and President of the Institute's Geopolitics & Energy Scientific Committee.

In the possibility that the declaration and delimitation of the EEZ will give our country to exploit its marine and underwater wealth, not only in terms of hydrocarbons, but also in the exploitation of the huge wind potential that exists in the Aegean, especially with the development of hundreds floating wind turbines, Mr. Angelos Syrigos, professor of International Law and Foreign Policy at Panteion University and Member of Parliament of Athens A with the New Democracy, mentioned in his own position.He emphasized, in fact, that although a large part of the Aegean, from the Dardanelles to Karpathos, constitutes the second largest wind field in the Mediterranean, nevertheless, due to the non-extension of our territorial waters beyond six nautical miles, Greece cannot utilize.

The next speaker, Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of Maryland and former member of the Greek delegation to the UN for the Law of the Sea, Mr. Theodoros Karyotis, who participated in the joint Southeastern Europe Energy Institute-Athens Bar Association event via Skype, underlined that "the continental shelf is dead, since the EEZ now covers all legal parameters".

At the same time, he emphasized that Turkey does not have EEZ borders with Egypt, Cyprus and Libya. Mr. Karyotis pointed out, in fact, that, with the exception of Greece, all the countries of the world have demarcated their own Exclusive Economic Zones based on the middle line and that "everyone is looking for hydrocarbons, except us!".

The professor of European Law at the Department of International and European Economic Studies of the Athens University of Economics, Asterios Pliakos, in his own presentation, extensively analyzed the EU's contribution to solving EEZ issues in the Union, and emphasized that many actions have been taken in this direction. However, he questioned the non-advancement of Greece's positions regarding the EEZ issue through the European institutional framework, noting, in fact, that in reality "we are silent".

Dr. Constantinos Nikolaou, vice-president of Energean and partner of the Southeastern Europe Energy Institute, emphasized, for his part, that only drilling can show whether there really are hydrocarbon deposits, characterizing, in fact, irresponsible what is heard about the "explosion" of gas deposits in the submarines structures of the country. Referring to Ankara's policy, he pointed out that every now and then it issues maps with which it challenges Greek sovereignty everywhere in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean.In addition, as he mentioned, he intervenes in the field with the help of the state-owned Turkish oil company, TRAO, which he equips with all the modern means for this purpose. However, Mr. Nikolaou concluded his speech by underlining that Turkey's "demon" is the middle line for drawing up the EEZ.

The next part of the joint Southeastern Europe Energy Institute - Athens Bar Association event for the EEZ, with the coordinator Mrs. Eugenia Tzanini, started with a speech by the professor of the University of Piraeus and former Minister of Environment and Energy, Mr. Yannis Maniatis. Mr. Maniatis, after referring to the European energy policy, proceeded to an extensive review of our country's policy regarding the EEZ and hydrocarbon research from the 2000s to today. After describing the problems, delays and setbacks that have occurred in these issues, he noted, however, that Law 4001/2011, which was passed during his Ministry, created a successful precedent for our country as the Turks placed the line of the illegal of the Turkish-Libyan pact within the limits of the coordinates that our country had published in the context of the law in question.

Dr. Keri Mavromati, Lawyer and PhD in International Law of the Sea at the Athens Law School, in her own presentation underlined the importance of the legal aspects of the EEZ and its adoption, while also referring to the related arguments that strengthen our national positions.

For his part, Professor Yiannis Valinakis, President of the European Center of Excellence - UOA, and former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, referred, among other things, to the timeless audacity of the Greek governments in matters of the EEZ and how our inability to defend our sovereign rights leads ultimately weakening our positions.

The next speaker, Dr. Georgios Anthrakeus, Lawyer, Special Adviser of the Southeastern Europe Energy Institute on EEZ issues, emphasized, with special emphasis, that our country has not utilized the possibilities given to it by the exclusive jurisdiction of the European Union court in Luxembourg (CJEU) in matters demarcation of marine zones as well as marine spatial planning in the EU.

Dr. Georgios Kremlis, Acting Director European Commission, Circular Economy and Insularity Advisor and President of the Espoo Convention and the SEA Protocol, pointed out, for his part, the opportunities that the EU institutional framework gives to our country in matters of maritime zones, but also the slowness and reluctance with the which Greece has taken so far.

Finally, Mr. Giannis Grigoriou, Vice-President of the Continental Europe Energy Council (CEEC) and Partner of the Southeastern Europe Energy Institute, referred extensively to the hydrocarbon potential of the Eastern Mediterranean and the potential that Greece is not exploiting in this sector, due to non-proclamation of EEZ.

This was followed by a discussion and submission of questions from the audience, while the event ended with the formulation of conclusions by the President of the Southeastern Europe Energy Institute, Mr. Kostis Stambolis.

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