The maritime border deal, on 27 November between the Government of National Accord (GNA) and Turkey, was denounced by Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus as it – according to international law – illegally claim rights over oil and gas drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean. The 27 November agreement claims a sea corridor between Libya and Turkey and in areas where Greece considers its maritime rights.
Under the international legal framework, maritime borders separating waters of regional countries are established to define zones of interests, delineate sea areas as part of countries’ sovereign territories, while providing guarantees of peaceful relations among the states.
Under the 1982 UN Maritime Law agreement, the economic maritime borders of coastal countries reach out to a distance of 200 nautical miles, which is approximately 370 km.
In the case of narrow areas, multiple states, and the overlapping of Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ), as is the case in the Eastern Mediterranean, the borders are demarcated according to specific mechanisms by agreement between countries. Such as the case of Egypt and Cyprus, who signed in 2003 a border delineation agreement that has drawn lines for EEZ both countries and now occurs between Egypt and Greece.
Recently, Greece and Egypt agreed to speed up talks on the EEZ between the two countries and finalise its definition and delineation.
According to Article 121 of the Law of the Sea Convention states that “the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf of an island are determined in accordance with the provisions of this Convention applicable to other land territory.”
This article means that the islands possess an economic zone, as is the case in other land territories.
With the multiplicity of Greek islands adjacent to Turkish lands such as Kastelorizo, or near them such as Rhodes and Crete, and with the presence of the island state of Cyprus, the Turkish economic zone becomes small compared to the Turkish ambitions, because these islands have an EEZ.
Turkey, which is not one of Law of the Sea Convention signatories, accuses the eastern Mediterranean countries, and especially Egypt, of seizing its wealth, because it considers the economic waters that surround it, to follow Ankara, despite the presence of the Greek islands and Cyprus.
Also, several media reports claim that Egypt forfeited its rights in the eastern Mediterranean’s EEZ when it signed the border delineation with Cyprus, and in Egypt’s talks now with Greece under the law of the seas. Some websites even call for Egypt to draw on the Turkish way that ignores the status of the islands and their rights per the UN agreement.
Although, the delineation by the Turkish method would increase the area of the Egyptian EEZ that they claim the country did forfeit. However, it would be a violation of the Law of the Sea agreement signed by the Egyptian state many years before the current regime even came to power.