Source: Republic of Greece – Foreign Affairs
“Οggi ho avuto il piacere di accogliere ad Atene il Ministro degli Esteri Italiano e carissimo amico, Luigi Di Maio.”
[Today I had the pleasure of welcoming my very dear friend the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luigi Di Maio, to Athens.]
As you know, our relations with Italy are at a very good level, and this was reaffirmed today with the signing of the agreement on delimitation of the maritime zones between the two countries. An agreement that, of course, has been concluded based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and reconfirms the rights of islands to maritime zones, as well as the median line of the 1977 agreement on the delimitation of the Greek-Italian continental shelf. At the same time, this agreement safeguards the interests of Greek fishermen, and for this reason I would like to thank Minister of Rural Development, Makis Voridis, for the excellent cooperation we had during the relevant negotiations.
Today is a historic day. This is an important development, given that the previous agreement dates from 1977 -under Konstantinos Karamanlis- and was once again with Italy.
It remains our country’s firm pursuit to delimit the maritime zones with all of our neighbours, in the framework of international law. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which, as we all know, reflects customary law in its entirety -and not selectively or arbitrarily, as some try to use it- provides all the necessary tools for this purpose.
The delimitation of maritime zones is achieved in accordance with International Law, through valid agreements. Not through null and void agreements, like the Turkey-Sarraj agreement. And, of course, not through the unilateral submission of coordinates.
My friend the Italian Minister and I also talked about the Eastern Mediterranean. I noted the escalation in Turkey’s illegal conduct against our country, manifested most recently in the publication of the Turkish Petroleum Corporation’s applications to carry out drilling on the Greek continental shelf. As well as in the wider region, in other words, against the rights of the Republic of Cyprus, Syria and Libya. In combination with Turkey’s hostile rhetoric, these actions are indisputable proof of Turkey’s destabilising role.
Greece is responding to the provocations methodically. International Law determines the red lines, and these will be respected.
With regard to Libya, we underscored the need for a political solution to be found through the UN and the Berlin process. Greece welcomed the new Egyptian initiative that moves in this direction. As we all know, the Italian Ambassador attended the relevant event in Cairo. We stressed the importance of the European Union’s operation IRINI, to which Italy and Greece contribute substantially and will cooperate closely.
We talked about the European perspective of the Western Balkans, which we also both support, always under the known conditionalities.
Finally, we talked at length about the pandemic, its repercussions and the return to normalcy. Mr. Di Maio briefed me on the rapidly improving epidemiological facts in Italy. I was very glad to hear that. Based on these, starting this coming Monday and gradually through to the end of the month, Greece will be lifting any restrictions in place. Greece expects its Italian friends to spend their holidays in Greece this year, just as they have done in previous years.
during the grey days of the pandemic, we held a simple ceremony here at the Ministry, expressing our solidarity with the friendly Italian people in the difficult hours they were going through. At that time, I pledged, on the instructions of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, our practical support as well. Today, with everyone focused on research, so that we can definitively defeat the virus, we announce the contribution of a symbolic sum to two research centres: the “Luigi Sacco” University Hospital in Milan and the National Institute for Infectious Diseases “Lazzaro Spallanzani”, which have carried out distinguished research into Sars and Covid-19.
“Vorrei infine, caro amico, esprimere sentimenti di sincera amicizia e solidarietá del popolo greco al popolo italiano”
[Finally, my dear friend, I would like to express the Greek people’s sincere feelings of friendship and solidarity with the Italian people.]