Greece Plans to Search for Oil in Aegean Sea

ATHENS (AFP), Aug. 3, 2009

The Greek government is planning to search for oil in the Aegean sea, a minister said in comments published on Sunday.

"We are drawing up a new judicial framework covering the search and extraction of hydrocarbons," Minister for Development Costis Hatzidakis said in comments published Sunday in the Greek daily Eleftherotypia.

"We are going to submit a draft law along these lines by the end of the year," Hatzidakis added.

The judicial measures will be aimed at protecting the environment, he said.

Two weeks ago Athens protested against a decision by neighboring Turkey to start searching for oil near the Greek island of Castellorizo in the southeastern Aegean, a recurrent source of tension between the two countries.

Asked about these operations, Hatzidakis said Greece "would not give up its sovereign rights."

The Greek foreign ministry said Turkey's surveys in the area around the continental shelf of Castellorizo "contravened the laws of the sea."

The boundaries of the continental shelf figure among the disputes between the two countries. Greece has raised the prospect of taking the dispute to the International Court of Justice at the Hague.

The two countries are also in dispute over the limits of air space and maritime borders in the Aegean.  

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