Droutsas on EEA, relations with Turkey

In statements broadcast live by local radio station Vima on Monday, Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas replied to criticism of his position concerning attempts to claim to an Exclusive Economic Area (EEA) in the Aegean and stressed that Greece was not waiving any of its rights.
"There is no danger of selling out any of Greece's sovereign rights. Let us be clear and categorical on this point, because many people have tried to play on people's fears, especially during a period when Greek society is in a state of insecurity due to the economic crisis. There is no such issue. Nor is it correct that the government does not want to claim an EEA," he emphasised.

Droutsas pointed out that the government had repeatedly stated its intention to claim an EEA and had a clear plan for coming to such agreements on maritime zones with all its neighbours.

"We have already signed an agreement with Albania, which due to certain obstacles within that country has not gone ahead at this time. We have been in negotiations for some time with others of our neighbours, such as Libya and Egypt, and for obvious reason such issues are not at the moment at the top of the agenda for those countries. In fact, a few weeks ago, I visited Egypt and spoke with my counterpart on this issue," the minister pointed out.

Concerning Turkey, in particular, Droutsas noted that Greece had been in talks with Turkey for some time in order to delineate the contintental shelf in the Aegean.

"It is not easy nor self-evident for Turkey to sit and talk on this issue. You know that - and this is our unambiguous position and the reality - that the goal of our exploratory talks with Turkey are to delinate the continental shelf and nothing more," he said.

The foreign minister noted that the current Turkish prime minister, in Athens' view, was someone that permitted hope that the process of talks could lead somewhere and that the Greek side had invested on this process.

"What I cannot accept is that some people will use the term EEA to create a tense political atmosphere when essentially there is nothing there," he added.

In statements last week, Droutsas had spoken out against "further complicating" talks with Turkey on the continental shelf by introducing "new terms" such as the EEA, arguing that the EEA and continental shelf were to all intents and purposes identical in a small sea such as the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean.

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