Greece’s Activities in the Eastern Mediterranean

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The Mediterranean Region, which has maintained its importance in every period of human history, has been at the forefront in terms of energy resources for the last 20 years. After Geographical Discoveries, the Mediterranean Region has lost its importance in an instant, but it has regained its old reputation with the discovery of energy resources in the region in 1999. In this period, although every country that had a coast to the Mediterranean tried to put forward various assumptions and jurisdictions in order to protect its interests, Greece, trying to act quickly, put forward various international agreements and declared the borders of continental shelf areas and exclusive economic zone in the region between the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean. However, it is possible to state that the borders in question do not comply with international law.

The reason for the shift of the interest of regional and global powers to the Eastern Mediterranean is the data published by the United States (USA) Geological Survey. According to the aforementioned data, it is estimated that there are 1.7 billion barrels of oil and 3.5 trillion cubic meters of natural gas reserves in the sea in the Eastern Mediterranean.[1] This is a situation that will enable Greece to achieve positive gains in the field of energy. However, as it is known, Greece does not have a coast to the Eastern Mediterranean in terms of the mainland. For this reason, the theses they put forward are not legitimate.

Along with European countries such as France, Italy and Germany, it is obvious that the United States is also interested in energy reserves in the region. It can be said that the largest natural gas reserves among the Mediterranean countries are located in the ‘’Exclusive Economic Zone’’area belonging to Egypt. There are about 1.6 trillion cubic meters of natural gas in the regions called Nur and Zohr. For this reason, the Athenian administration has made arrangements in its relations with Cairo. [2]

In this context, Greece is a state that includes the Anatolian lands and Istanbul, which they call Constantinople, and which creates its foreign policy towards these so-called borders. Greece claims many islands in the Aegean, including islands that have been designated as owners under the Treaty of Lausanne. It also places troops in demilitarized areas, despite the fact that it is stated otherwise in international agreements. It can be said that Greece’s actions, which are contrary to the interests of the aggressive and neighboring states, are based on the idea of creating ‘’Greek influence’’ on the Balkan countries, which they have prepared for many years.

Moreover, Greece has not been limited to deploying armies in demilitarized areas. The country in question wants to increase the width of the area which is qualified as EEZ and which enables the formation of all kinds of maritime jurisdiction in this region from 6 miles to 12 miles. At this point, it is confronted with the ‘’United Nations (UN) Convention on the Law of the Sea’’, an international convention. Greece, which wants to determine the EEZ areas, cannot get the UN to accept this request because the Aegean Sea is an inland sea and has the status of a semi-closed sea.

In addition to all these, Greece has unlawfully occupied various islands and islets called ‘’EGAAYDAK’’. Other problems in the Aegean and Mediterranean are the Maritime Information Area (FIR Line) and the continental shelf. Greece also wants more than its share of the law on the FIR Line and the continental shelf, arguing that military aircraft should be included in the FIR system even though civil aviation is in question.

Greece signed an EEZ agreement with Egypt on 6 August 2020 within the scope of the adoption of maritime jurisdiction areas in the Eastern Mediterranean. Under the agreement, Greece notified the UN that it is adjacent to Egypt by maritime border. Based on this, the Athens administration had to make concessions from the EEZ areas of several regions such as Rhodes and Crete, which it claimed in the past.

Within the scope of another EEZ agreement, it signed an EEZ agreement with Italy on 9 June 2020 in the Ionian Sea. There are also elements against Greece in the relationship of this EEZ agreement with the Eastern Mediterranean. Because Greece accepted that it could be a border neighbor by sea under the agreement and renounced the facts it claimed as rights in the Eastern Mediterranean. For this reason, the Athens administration was subjected to many criticisms. The number of people who see this decision against Greece is quite high. Greece’s use of geodesic maps in the agreement signed with Italy is the main reason for this situation.

As a result, Greece has not achieved significant gains in the Eastern Mediterranean despite its unfair claims and a number of ‘’cooperation’’ initiatives. It is wondered on what legal basis the recently claimed EEZ agreement between Greece and the Greek Cypriot Administration of Southern Cyprus (GCA) will be based. As it is known, the Eastern Mediterranean is a region that many states claim and border within the scope of maritime rights. For this reason, the Athens administration does not have the potential to claim rights in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean alone, and has not been able to establish its attitudes contrary to international law and geographical location conditions on a legal basis as seen in the EEZ agreement with Italy.

[1] “Doğu Akdeniz Sorunu: Bölgede Ne Kadar Gaz Var, Hangi Ülke Ne İstiyor?”,, BBCNEWS, (Date of Accession: 10.03.2023).

[2] “Doğu Akdeniz’de Ne Kadar Doğal Gaz Rezervi Var?”,, EuroNews, (Date of Accession: 10.03.2023).