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Greece, Turkey on collision course in territorial, energy dispute

Greece plans to extend the western limit of its territorial waters in the Ionian Sea to 12 miles, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Wednesday.

The conservative premier said a bill on the matter would be submitted to parliament very soon.

“Greece will extend its western territorial waters to 12 nautical miles from six,” Mitsotakis told lawmakers during a debate on whether to approve a recent accord on maritime boundaries between Greece and Italy.

The two countries signed an agreement on maritime boundaries in June, establishing an exclusive economic zone and resolving longstanding issues over fishing rights in the Ionian Sea.

A separate maritime agreement with Egypt is also under debate in Greek parliament and lawmakers are expected to vote on both agreements on Thursday.

On the other side of Greece, to its east, Turkey has warned that a similar move by Athens would be a ‘causus belli’,  – a cause for war. The two countries are in dispute over the extent of their continental shelves and their maritime boundaries.

Turkey is determined to do whatever is necessary to obtain its rights in the Black Sea, Aegean and Mediterranean, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday.

“We will not compromise over what belongs to us …We are determined to do whatever is necessary,” Erdogan said, a day after Germany’s foreign minister sought to ease tensions between Turkey and Greece in their dispute over control of eastern Mediterranean waters.

Speaking at an event commemorating the 11th century military victory by Seljuk Turks over the Byzantine empire at Malazgirt, Erdogan also called on Ankara’s counterparts to avoid mistakes that he said would bring their destruction.

Tensions between Turkey and Greece escalated after Ankara sent its Oruc Reis survey vessel to disputed eastern Mediterranean waters this month, a move Athens called illegal.

Turkey and Greece, NATO allies, vehemently disagree over claims to hydrocarbon resources in the area based on conflicting views on the extent of their continental shelves in waters dotted with mostly Greek islands.

“If there is anyone who wants to pay its price, they are welcome to confront us. If not then they should go away so we can handle our own business,” Erdogan also said.

Germany has sought to mediate between Ankara and Athens. Greece and Turkey said they want dialogue but each warned that they would continue to defend their rights in the region.

France will join Italy, Greece and Cyprus for military exercises in the eastern Mediterranean until Aug 28.

Source: Reuters

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