Egypt parliament committee approves maritime demarcation deal with Greece

Gamal Essam El-Din , Monday 17 Aug 2020

The legislative and constitutional committee in the Egyptian parliament on Monday (Photo:Egyptian Parliament)

The Egyptian parliament's legislative and constitutional affairs committee approved on Monday a deal demarcating maritime borders with Greece.

The deal was signed by the ministers of foreign affairs of Egypt and Greece in Cairo on 6 August.

A report prepared by the committee said that MPs approved the deal after they had made sure that it goes in line with Egypt's constitutional and legal systems.

"The deal between the two republics of Egypt and Greece also go in line with international law," said the report, adding that "it also includes establishing an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) between the two countries."

The report said the deal aims at partially demarcating the maritime borders between the two parties in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

"The demarcation of these borders will be completed when necessary and once consultations between the two countries on point ‘A’ and point ‘E’ are finished in line with international law," said the report.

The report indicates that the EEZ will be between point "A East" and "E West" and in line with attached geographical formulations and that it forms an integral part of the deal.

The report said that any change of the geographical formulations between point "A to the East" and point "E to the west" will be concluded only under a bilateral agreement between the two countries.

"If any of the two parties seeks to sign an EEZ with a third country sharing maritime borders with the two countries, it shall inform the other party in advance and ahead of signing the deal with the third country," said the report.

The deal also states that in case that natural resources, including hydrocarbons, are found in an extension area between the EEZ of the two countries, there should be a new deal on how to utilise these resources and that any disputes in this respect shall be settled through diplomatic channels.

The deal stipulates that it will not be a matter of criticism or withdrawal or postponement for any reason.

"It can be modified under an agreement between the two parties and that it goes into effect once the ratification documents are exchanged between the two countries," said the report.

Egypt and Greece signed a maritime demarcation deal on 6 August. Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Soukry said in a press conference that the provisions of the deal are in line with international law and the United Nations Convention On The Law Of The Sea.

 "The deal permits Egypt and Greece to go ahead with maximising benefits from riches available in the exclusive economic zones of both countries, particularly the promising gas and oil reserves," he stressed.

Shoukry pointed out that the new agreement paves the way for more regional cooperation between the Egyptian and Greek sides in the field of energy, given the membership of the two countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum.

The forum’s members are Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Israel, Jordan, and Palestine. The forum was established in January 2019 to "create a regional gas market, optimise resource development, cut the cost of infrastructure, offer competitive prices, and improve trade ties,” according to Egypt's petroleum ministry.

Shoukry added that “the friendly relationship between Egypt and Greece is a key pillar to preserving the security and stability of the Eastern Mediterranean and countering the threats stemming from irresponsible policies that support extremism and terrorism.”

Greece's Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said the deal is "historical" and that it materialised following long rounds of negotiations, adding that the agreement ensures cooperation between both countries.

The 6 August deal between Egypt and Greece has since caused a lot of tension in relations between Greece and Turkey. Greece has accused Turkey of violating its sovereign maritime rights in the Mediterranean Sea.

Turkish media has said that the Egypt-Greece deal directs a blow to a maritime border agreement in the Mediterranean Sea between Turkey and Libya's government in Tripoli in 2019.

Turkey's foreign minister claimed on the same day the Egypt-Greece deal was signed that it is baseless and that it falls in the area of Turkey's continental shelf.
Reuters quoted the ministry as saying that Turkey considers the agreement null and void and that the deal also violates Libya's maritime rights.

Tensions were already high between Greece and Turkey over the exploration of energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean. Greece threatened that it would not hesitate using force to stop Turkey's illegal exploration works in the Mediterranean.

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