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Document Type

Article

Abstract

Since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Greece and Turkey have each been vying for territory within their common waters in the Aegean Sea. For over five decades, the two governments have contested the territorial sovereignty of the two rocky islets of Imia, the delimitation of the continental shelf and the territorial sea, and whether the continental shelf is a natural prolongation of Greece or Turkey’s mainland coast. Not surprisingly then, the two countries have disagreed on where to draw the respective border in the Aegean Sea and, perhaps more fundamentally, on the application of certain practices under international law. The Aegean Sea is itself unique being 400 miles long and 200 miles wide, with thousands of islands scattered throughout it. Of particular importance are the Imia rocks and islets, which are scattered approximately 4 miles off Turkey’s west mainland coast, in the southeast Aegean Sea, and are also approximately 2.3 nautical miles from the Turkish island of Cavus. The islets are approximately 6 nautical miles east of the Greek island of Kalymnos, 1.9 miles southeast of the Greek island of Kalolimnos, and 1 mile west of the boundary that divides the Greek and Turkish territorial sea. Being so close to Greek and Turkish territories, the islands are at the center of the Greek-Turkish dispute. This Article will examine possible maritime and airspace delimitations through the application of international law, including customary law and bi- and multi-lateral conventions. Part II begins with a brief discussion of the historical background that has shaped Greek- Turkish relations and led to the present-day dispute. Part III analyzes whether Turkey is bound by the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and Part IV proposes delimitations of the maritime zones, while specifically discussing the Imia islets and whether they are juridical islands capable of generating any maritime zones. Part V provides possible territorial sea delimitations to the entire Aegean Sea, while Part VI discusses the relation between the territorial sea regime and the airspace above it. Lastly, Part VII outlines methods to delimit the continental shelf and exclusive economic zone areas in the entire Aegean Sea before concluding with a discussion on various dispute resolution methods that Greece and Turkey may consider to resolve their long-standing issues in the Aegean.

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