Greece to ratify sea accord with Egypt on August 26

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece plans to ratify an accord on maritime boundaries with Egypt next week, its government said on Thursday, referring to a deal which has angered Turkey and highlighted overlapping claims over the east Mediterranean.

Egypt and Greece sealed the accord defining maritime zones on Aug 6. It was ratified by Egypt’s parliament on Aug. 18, and Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said it was being submitted to the Greek parliament with a view to it being ratified on Aug. 26.

Yet Turkey has said the pact infringes its own continental shelf and has dispatched a survey vessel to an area between Crete and Cyprus. The agreement also overlaps with maritime zones Turkey agreed with Libya last year, decried as illegal by Greece.

Maritime zones, or exclusive economic zones, give a state rights over natural resources. Largely unexplored, the east Mediterranean is thought to be rich in natural gas. Zohr, the largest gas field in the Mediterranean, was found off Egypt in 2015.

Turkey is at odds with both Greece and Cyprus, which discovered a small quantity of natural gas in 2011, over overlapping claims of jurisdiction.

In Greece’s case, the two are in disagreement over their continental shelf.

Turkey also challenges the right of Cyprus to explore in the seas around the island because it maintains that the Nicosia administration does not represent Turkish Cypriots.

Turkey argues the island is not taking into account the interests of estranged Turkish Cypriots, who were co-founders of the island-state in 1960 only to leave three years later. Cyprus is now run by an internationally recognized government comprised solely of Greek Cypriots.

Reporting by Michele Kambas; Editing by David Holmes

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