Greece vows to declare exclusive zone around east Mediterranean island
Athens plans to declare an exclusive economic zone around the small island of Kastelorizo just one mile off the Turkish coast, Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos said on Dec. 19.
“Kastelorizo’s EEZ [exclusive economic zone] is of particular importance for our country’s economy. Within the next months, the declaration of the EEZ will unleash the potential for natural gas extraction for our country, [revealing] large gas fields that will meet the needs of future generations,” Greek daily Kathimerini quoted Kammenos as saying during his visit to a military outpost on the island.
The local population of the 12-square-kilometer Kastelorizo, named as Meis or Kızılhisar in Turkish, is only about 500.
The disputed waters and many islets in the Aegean Sea often put Greece at loggerheads with Turkey, which also has started drilling in the East Mediterranean recently.
On Dec. 14, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar stressed the importance of protecting Turkey’s rights in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean.
“We will continue to protect our rights and benefits in the Aegean, in the Eastern Mediterranean and in ‘blue homeland’,” Akar said during a ceremony in Ankara.
In October, Greece’s former Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said the country was planning to extend its territorial waters in the south Aegean Sea, but made no mention of an EEZ.
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