“The extension of territorial waters in the Ionian Sea by Greece to 12 nautical miles reaches up the south of the Peloponnesian Peninsula and does not affect the Aegean Sea in any way,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said in a statement, responding to a question on the matter.
Aksoy underlined that Turkey has vital rights and interests in the semi-enclosed Aegean Sea, where special geographical circumstances prevail.
“Turkey’s position that the territorial waters in the Aegean Sea should not be unilaterally extended in a way to restrict the freedom of navigation, as well as the access to the high seas of both Turkey and third countries, is well-known by all parties.”
Turkey’s position remains unchanged, he stressed.
Greece’s parliament approved a bill Wednesday that envisions an increase to Greece’s territorial waters in the Ionian Sea from 6 nautical miles to 12.
Greece signed an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) deal on June 9 with Italy and Aug. 7 with Egypt.
The decree on the closure of the bays and the marking of straight baselines in the Ionian Sea region and the Ionian Islands up to Cape Tainaro in the Peloponnese took effect Dec. 27 after it was published in the Greek official gazette.
The draft bill was taken to parliament on Jan. 9 for discussion by lawmakers.
Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said Tuesday that discussions on extending territorial waters off the eastern part of Crete Island are being held.
Last August, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the government was planning to submit a bill to double its territorial waters in the Ionian Sea.
In the future, Greece could also extend territorial waters in other maritime areas, he added.
In the mid-1990s, Greece attempted to extend its territorial waters in the Aegean Sea to 12 miles but scuttled the plan after Turkey declared that such a move would be a casus belli, or cause for war.
Turkey and Greece are due to begin exploratory talks on Jan. 25 in Istanbul to resolve marine disputes.
Hurriyet Daily News