On Tuesday, Greece and Italy signed an agreement over maritime borders that establishes an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) between the two countries. This resolves longstanding issues over fishing rights in the Ionian Sea.
The agreement was signed during Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio’s visit to Athens. This comes after months of tension in the eastern Mediterranean region due to conflicts over natural resources, with a complex diplomatic confrontation breaking out between Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said the agreement confirmed the right of Greek islands in the area to maritime zones and settled fishing rights issues. “This is a historic day,” Dendias said, adding that Greece seeks to establish exclusive economic zones with all its neighbors and that “maritime boundaries are defined only with valid deals”.
The agreement comes months after an agreement between Turkey and Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) redrew the maritime borders between the two countries, a move that was widely criticized by EU member states and regional actors. Greece argued the Turkey-GNA maritime borders agreement “infringes its sovereign rights.”
In an interview published on Monday by the newspaper ‘Kathimerini’, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that Europe must stand with Greece against “Turkish aggression”. He expressed his concern over Turkey’s recent actions against not only Greece, but also Libya.
Last Thursday, Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj of Libya’s GNA travelled to Ankara, where he met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Turkish President reiterated his country’s full support for the GNA.