ΕLIAMEP-Efthymios Papastavridis: The Greek-Turkish Maritime Disputes: An International Law perspective (Policy paper)

Summary
Greece and Turkey have markedly different positions both as to the existing disputes between them and as to the legal framework governing their substance. Greece's consistent view is that there is only one outstanding legal dispute between the two States, namely that concerning the delimitation of the continental shelf. On the other hand, Turkey has been systematically widening the spectrum of the perceived 'disputes' between the two States. The application to the ICJ in 1976 and the judgment of the Court that lacked jurisdiction to adjudicate the case illustrates how hazardous it is to institute proceedings in the ICJ by way of unilateral Application. Also, simultaneous recourse to the Security Council proved unsuccessful.
The right of Greece to unilaterally extend its territorial sea up to 12 n.m. is well-founded in international law of the sea, while a closer look at Turkish claims to the contrary reveals their tenuous legal ground. Greece may extend its territorial sea whenever and wherever it considers politically appropriate.
As to the law of maritime delimitation, Turkey seems to accept the median line for the delimitation of the territorial sea, and the customary nature of the provisions of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea on the delimitation of the continental shelf and the EEZ. Yet, it continues its 'cherry-picking' policy in invoking the relevant rules of international law, especially with respect to the effect of islands in the delimitation and the cut-off effect.
It is reasonable to presume that the 'three-stage approach', as developed by the relevant jurisprudence, would be the applicable legal framework of the delimitation of the continental shelf/EEZ between Greece and Turkey before any international court and tribunal. Also, both States know well which arguments would be more convincing in view of the relevant acquis judiciaire. That said, each case is unique and requires specific treatment. As to the means for the settlement of the maritime delimitation dispute, the recourse to the International Court of Justice is preferable for many reasons, including that it has a steady and, to a certain extent, foreseeable jurisprudence; it is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, whatever this means for its credibility not only on the international, but also on the national political plane; and in terms of the execution of its Judgments, States seem to be less prone to disobey an ICJ judgment. 

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