Egypt and Greece have signed a maritime demarcation deal establishing an exclusive economic zone between the two countries, Egypt s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said in a joint televised press conference on Thursday.
Shoukry received his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias in Cairo earlier on Thursday to discuss means to strengthen bilateral relations and coordination between the two countries in the East Mediterranean region.
Shoukry said at the conference that the provisions of the deal are in line with international law and the United Nations Convention On The Law Of The Sea.
The deal targets tapping into the capabilities available in the Eastern Mediterranean region, he added.
"The deal permits Egypt and Greece to go ahead with maximising benefits from riches available in the exclusive economic zones of both countries, particularly the promising gas and oil reserves," he stressed.
Shoukry pointed out the new agreement paves the way for more regional cooperation between the Egyptian and Greek sides in the field of energy, given the membership of the two countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum.
The forum’s members include Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Israel, Jordan, and Palestine. The forum was established in January 2019 to "create a regional gas market, optimise resource development, cut the cost of infrastructure, offer competitive prices, and improve trade ties,” Egypt s petroleum ministry earlier said.
Shoukry added that “the friendly relationship between Egypt and Greece is a key pillar to preserving the security and stability of the Eastern Mediterranean and countering the threats stemming from irresponsible policies that support extremism and terrorism.”
Dendias said the deal is "historical" and that it materialised following long rounds of negotiations, adding that the agreement ensures cooperation between both countries.
The process of negotiating exclusive economic zones (EEZ) between Egypt and Greece was launched over three years ago during a visit by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to Athens, where he and then Greek prime minister Alexi Tsipras agreed that to help each country benefit from the possible resources of its national waters an agreement needed to be signed.
According to Nikoaos Garilidis, the Greek ambassador to Cairo, over 13 rounds of negotiations have been held between Cairo and Athens over the past three years.
The Egyptian-Greek deal was inked in accordance with the law of the sea and respects all neighbouring relations.
“The deal Is the exact opposite of any other illegitimate thing like what was signed between Turkey and Tripoli. That deal was baseless," he added.
In November 2019, Turkey and the Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez Al-Sarraj inked a memorandum of understanding on maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean Sea.
Five countries including Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus called on the United Nations not to register the maritime boundaries deal, describing it as "illegal", particularly after the Speaker of the Libyan House of Representatives Aguila Saleh, in his letter to the UN, rejected the agreement.