The Aegean Sea of Contradictions (Part II)

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2021-65-11-115-122
P. Gudev,
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation.

Received 23.05.2021.

Acknowledgements. The article was prepared within the project “Post-Crisis World Order: Challenges and Technologies, Competition and Cooperation” supported by the grant from Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation program for research projects in priority areas of scientific and technological development (Agreement 075-15-2020-783).

Abstract. The Aegean Sea as a common sea region for Greece and Turkey is not only an important source of aquatic biological and energy resources, but also a water area where both countries have their own interests in its economic development and use. Traditionally, this sea area, most of which is a high sea in terms of rules and provisions of the modern international maritime law, has been used by both states on a parity basis, and other extra-regional countries have had equal rights with them here. However, the desire of Greece and Turkey to extend their zones of sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over maritime zones, seabed and subsoil has given rise to new maritime disputes. It is no coincidence that the problem of delimiting the continental shelf, i. e. the underwater margin of the continent where coastal countries are vested with rights to explore and exploit its resources, has accompanied the Turkish-Greek negotiations for decades. Greece has even initiated legal proceedings before the International Court of Justice on the issue, but for various reasons the Court found that it had no jurisdiction to hear the case. To date, the positions of the parties on this issue have not changed; they are directly opposite and mutually exclusive. This and other circumstances, as well as the fact that Turkey is not a party to either the 1958 Geneva Conventions or the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, severely limits the possibility of a new trial. Moreover, the legal positivism of the Greek position on the entire spectrum of Aegean Sea problems, i. e. an appeal solely to the applicable rules and provisions of international law of the sea, not only fails to satisfy Turkey but also has negative consequences for other countries. First of all, this concerns issues related to the freedom of navigation. Greece’s claim to extend the outer limits of its territorial sea from 6 to 12 nautical miles around the huge number of Greek islands in the Aegean Sea would inevitably lead to a significant reduction of the high sea. Although at a minimum the right of innocent passage and at a maximum the more liberal rule of the law of the sea – the right of transit passage – will apply, the legal regime for these maritime areas will be fundamentally different and more heavily regulated. The passage of merchant ships and warships, as well as the overflight of military aircraft, including those of any foreign country, also of the U.S. and Russian Federation, will not be as free as on the high seas. All of these issues are dealt with in this (second) part of the paper.

Keywords: continental shelf, International Court of Justice, delimitation, regime of islands, 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, territorial sea, right of innocent passage, right of transit passage, high seas, freedom of navigation


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For citation:
Gudev P. The Aegean Sea of Contradictions (Part II) . World Eonomy and International Relations, 2021, vol. 65, no. 11, pp. 115-122.

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