Athens on Thursday notified the United Nations of a decision by Ankara to grant hydrocarbons exploration permits for parts of the Aegean deemed to fall within Greek territory.

On the instructions of Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, a diplomatic note was sent to the UN to “safeguard Greece’s stance in defense of our country’s sovereign rights, in accordance with customary and conventional Law of the Sea, and specifically the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982),” according to a statement on the ministry’s website.

Ankara issued the exploration permits last summer, Kathimerini understands. The ministry said that “directly upon learning of Turkey’s granting of permits, the Greek government proceeded to the appropriate demarches to Turkey.” It added that “Greece wants to have good-neighborly relations with Turkey... based on mutual respect and international legality, particularly regarding matters that concern our sovereign rights and the exploitation of our natural wealth.”

The development comes less than two weeks before a scheduled visit to Ankara by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who is expected to broach the long-unresolved issue of the delineation of the continental shelf. Athens hopes to resolve the dispute so it can begin searching for oil and gas in the Aegean.

Source: ekathimerini.com