Greece ceded 17.66% of the EEZ that the principle of equidistance would give it! - Detailed data and maps

Ω Stavros Lygeros
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Greece conceded 17.66% of the EEZ that the principle of equidistance would give it - Detailed data and maps, Stavros Lygeros

As is customary, when a government signs an agreement with another state, it accompanies its signing with rhetoric about how that agreement serves national interests. All in all, its propaganda mechanism and the media that support it, cultivate the image of diplomatic success, projecting the existing positive aspects of the agreement, but silencing, or obscuring, the negative aspects. This rule was also fully applicable in the case of the recent Cairo agreement on the partial demarcation of the EEZ with Greece.

The fact that the partial demarcation agreement between Greece and Egypt cuts across the Ankara-Tripoli memorandum (November 2019) was overstated. As is well known, this memorandum-agreement delimited the continental shelf-EEZ between Turkey and Libya in a sea zone, which extends from northeast to southwest, zeroing the impact on the EEZ of the islands of Rhodes-Karpathos-Kasos-Crete.

At this point it is necessary to emphasize that the Cairo agreement does not annul the Turkish-Libyan MoU. Although the terms of the Greece – Egypt agreement are completely in line with international law, while the Turkish -Libyan MoU is completely outside, its cancellation is not effected. An international dispute is being created. In other words, while until recently there was only the Ankara-Tripoli memorandum (Greece had not submitted any coordinates on which points it considers external limits of its EEZ), now there is also the Cairo agreement.

The fact that an international dispute has now been created does not mean that it is automatically referred to an international tribunal, such as The Hague. The impression was wrongly cultivated that through the agreement Greece prevents Turkish research and drilling in the part of the Greek EEZ that is now delimited. After all, Erdogan was very clear on that.

The positive aspect

The Cairo agreement, therefore, has an undeniable positive aspect. It is precisely this positive aspect that has been overstated, often in a way that gives the false impression that it solves the problem for Greece. What has been systematically obscured are the negative aspects of the agreement. The government released a map with the boundary line, and the text of the agreement. Neither the map nor the text, however, are enlightening about the percentages of the now delimited EEZ are secured by Greece and Egypt.

In order to make some semblance of this and not get caught up in the allegations of both sides, I asked for the help of expert Dimitris Dagres, who until his retirement was director of cartography of the Hydrographic Service of the Hellenic Navy General Staff and in this capacity has participated in all negotiations for the delimitation of maritime zones with Egypt, Libya and Albania.

So let's look at the specifics:

The agreement delimits the sea area between the meridians 26o00 'and 27o59'. It is as shown on the map a sea zone from north to south that intersects the sea zone that was defined-demarcated by the Ankara-Tripoli memorandum. Greece kept 0.8 miles away from the 28th meridian, because it has been set as the western limit by the Turks in sea plots that they have arbitrarily set for years.

The dividing line of the Greek from the Egyptian EEZ is determined by five points A, B C, D, and E, which are determined by their geographical coordinates. The dividing line is straight and has a length of 104 miles.

The text of the agreement does not mention the method by which the dividing line was defined.

The sea area that is delimited is defined: As I mentioned above west and east of the two meridians 26ο00'Α and 27ο59'Α, respectively. North by the external borders of the territorial waters of Greece and to the south by those of Egypt.

Measuring from the 12 mile line

In order to determine the percentages of the EEZ secured by the agreement exactly, each country's EEZ must be measured in an equal way. If the Greek EEZ is calculated starting from the end of Greek territorial waters [6 nautical miles (hereinafter referred to as miles)] and the Egyptian EEZ from the end of Egyptian territorial waters (12 miles), due to this difference, for the calculation, the sea area between 6 and 12 miles off the Egyptian coast will be hidden, while the corresponding Greek will be shown.

For the needs of equal measurement, and without questioning of course the existing legal status of the territorial waters of each country, we will take as external border of territorial waters and starting point of both EEZs 12 miles from the Greek and Egyptian coasts. A second equally balanced method is to take as a starting point for measuring the EEZ the 6-mile line or the natural coastline of both countries. It should be noted that Egypt has drawn baselines along its entire Mediterranean coast from its border with Libya to its border with Israel, thus gaining a sea area of 750 km2.

Greece conceded 17.66% of the EEZ that the principle of equidistance would give it - Detailed data and maps A, Stavros Lygeros

MAP A - EEZ delimitation based on the middle line and with a starting line of 12 miles

Let's apply the first method. The two meridians intersect the coasts of Greece at two points and the coasts of Egypt at another two points (Map A). Therefore for each country the two corresponding points define the part of the relevant coasts on each side. The length of the coasts, according to jurisprudence, is measured in the general direction of the coasts and not in the natural route of the coastline.

For Egypt the enclosed by the two meridian coasts are continental and have a length of 108 miles. For Greece, the coasts are insular and in the area enclosed by the two meridians there are three sea straits (Crete-Kasos, Kasos-Karpathos and Karpathos-Rhodes) (Map A). An objective way of separating the Aegean from the Eastern Mediterranean in these straits is the line along which the strait has the smallest width, which is a geographical feature. For the purposes of nomenclature in nautical charts the separation made by the International Hydrographic Organization - IHO (SP 23/53) for straits does not always follow geographical features.

The delimitation of the EEZ on the principle of the equidistant middle line

Based on this assumption, the length of the Greek island coasts enclosed by the two meridians (Koufonisi, Crete, Elassa, Kasos, Karpathos, Rhodes) (Map A) is 110.7 miles (5.7 + 30.6 + 3.1 + 12.2 + 39 + 20.1). Based on case law for Koufonisi and Elassa, which are located entirely in the Eastern Mediterranean, the length of the entire coast has been measured. The ratio of the lengths of the coasts of the two countries enclosed by the two meridian is 110.7 / 108 = 1.03. The delimitation by applying the principle of the equidistant middle line gives a Greek EEZ with an area of 38,859 km2. Respectively, it gives an Egyptian EEZ with an area of 35,051 km2.

The total area of the sea area that is demarcated is 73,910 km2 (38,859 + 35,051). In percentages, due to the geography and based on the principle of the equidistant middle line, Greece would get 52.6% of the demarcated sea area and Egypt 47.4%. The ratio of the respective EEZs is 1.1 (38.859 / 35.051 or 52.6 / 47.4) very close to the ratio of the length of the shores which is 1.03.

The delimitation of the EEZ with the Cairo agreement

Let us now see what the Cairo agreement provides for in order to determine the extent of the deviation from the percentages that the application of the equidistant principle would give. Based on the coordinates of the demarcation line A-B-C-D-E, the agreement gives Greece an EEZ with an area of 32,525 km2 and Egypt an EEZ with an area of 41,385 km2. We are always talking about the same sea area, whose total area is 73,910 km2. In percentages, Greece gets 44% and Egypt 56%. With this agreement, the coastline ratio of 1.03 is far from the ratio of the extent of the EEZs which is 0.79 (32,525 / 41,385 or 44% / 56%).

As shown in Map B, point A to the east of the boundary line is 28.5 miles north of where it would be if the principle of the middle line had been applied, depriving Greece of some of its EEZ. The points of the boundary line to the west deviate less to the north.

Greece conceded 17.66% of the EEZ that the principle of equidistance would give it - Detailed data and maps B, Stavros Lygeros

MAP B - The demarcation with the Cairo agreement with a starting line of 12 miles

At this point it is necessary to emphasize that the deviation of the EEZ ceded by Greece is not from 50% to 44%. It is from the 52.6% that the beginning of the equidistant middle line would give to 44%. The reduction of the Greek EEZ is 6,334 km2 (from 38,859 to 32,525) which corresponds to a reduction of 17.66% or to put it another way Greece ceded to Egypt, through the agreement, 8.6% of the total sea area thus demarcated (Map B ). And this in an area whose seabed is believed to hide large deposits of hydrocarbons.

Greece conceded 17.66% of the EEZ that the principle of equidistance would give it - Detailed data and maps C, Stavros Lygeros

MAP C - Boundary based on the middle line and with the starting line of the measurement of 6 miles

The demarcation with the beginning of the middle line would give in Greece an EEZ of area 42,098 km2 or 54.6% and in Egypt an EEZ of 35,051 km2 or 45.4% (Map C). The total area of ​​the sea area that is demarcated would be 77,149 km2 (42,098 + 35,051). With the Cairo agreement, the area of ​​the Greek EEZ is reduced from 42,098 to 35,764 km2 or from 54.6% to 46.4% and the area of ​​the Egyptian EEZ is increased from 35,051 to 41,385 km2 or from 45.4% to 53.6 % (Map D).

Greece conceded 17.66% of the EEZ that the principle of equidistance would give it - Detailed data and maps D, Stavros Lygeros

MAP D - The demarcation with the Cairo agreement with a starting line of the measurement of 6 miles.

With the second method (measurement of the EEZ from a line 6 miles from the coast) the Cairo agreement reduced (compared to the beginning of the middle line) the Greek EEZ by 6,764 km2 or by 16.07%. As I underscored in the calculations with the first method, the deviation of the EEZ received by Greece is not from 50% to 46.4%. It is from the 54.6% that the principle of equidistance would give it to 46.4% that the Cairo agreement gave it. To put it another way, with the agreement, Greece ceded 8.2% of the total sea area delimited to Egypt (Map D).

This is the truth the numbers show, as comes out of the measurements of Dimitris Dagres, one of the leading experts, who - as I mentioned above - as the highest official was the scientific-technical advisor of the Greek delegations in all the negotiations of the last decades for delimitation of maritime zones. This for anyone who is interested in the truth. Others who like to consume propaganda do not need boring numbers and percentages!

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