Greece to decide on expansion of territorial waters


Greece’s parliament will today debate and vote on a bill to extend the country’s territorial waters in the Ionian Sea from six to twelve nautical miles.

Notably, the move would not impact waters in the Aegean Sea, off of Greece’s southern and eastern coasts, where Athens and Ankara have been in dispute over maritime rights.

Supporters of the bill assert that the expansion plan will help Greece establish an exclusive economic zone in the Ionian Sea. However, today’s vote comes at a strategic time in the negotiations between Athens and Ankara over maritime rights in the eastern Mediterranean.

Indeed, the move signals how Greece will approach upcoming negotiations with its Turkish neighbour set for January 25 in Istanbul. Turkey had previously warned Greece that expanding its territorial waters in the Aegean Sea would constitute an act of war. While both sides are likely to find open hostilities undesirable, Greece will undoubtedly use the threat of expanding its boundaries to strengthen its hand ahead of the talks. This could ultimately intimidate Ankara into signing a maritime delimitation deal, similar to those signed last year by Greece with Libya and separately with Egypt.

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