Egypt’s Administrative Court is discussing a lawsuit that was filed against Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for giving away Chios island in the Mediterranean Sea based on the maritime demarcation agreement between Egypt and Greece that wa signed with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in 2015, according to Arabi 21.
The lawsuit calls to halt the implementation of the agreement and its repercussions. It also nullifies the agreement signed by the Egyptian government representative (al-Sisi) and considers the island an Egyptian territory.
In fact, the lawsuit filed is against Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, Endowment Minister Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. It mentioned that the case was surprisingly discovered after the Greek government refused to pay the island’s rent according to the contract between both countries.
Moreover, the lawsuit calls for the continuity of the rent contract between both the Egyptian and the Greek side and said that Greece should abide by all the international regulations that preserve Egypt’s rights concerning the island, and commitment to the payment of its annual rent, as well as the need to present the agreement to the Egyptian parliament for discussion.
The lawsuit against Sisi clarified that the island was a gift from the Ottoman Empire to Mohamed Ali -Egypt’s ruler at the time- who later kept as endowment for the charity activities. As a result, both sides have agreed that Greece should pay an annual payment of $1million to Egypt’s Endowment Ministry. It also mentioned that the Greek government refused to pay the rent value, saying that the island is now a Greek island according to the new maritime demarcation agreement signed between al-Sisi and the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in 2015 .
In August 2016, al-Sisi met Greek Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides and they discussed the outcomes of the Triple Summit between the leaders of Egypt, Greece and Cyprus that was held last December in Athens. In the same context, Alaa Youssef, Egypt’s presidency spokesperson, said in a statement that there is ongoing preparation to hold a Triple Summit next October in Cairo.
It’s noteworthy that al-Sisi pointed in various speeches to the cooperation between the three countries as well as the maritime demarcation agreement claiming that it reflects a model for cooperation between the Mediterranean countries and helps Egypt in exploring its regional water resources in the Mediterranean. For his part, Egyptian MP Haitham al-Hariri has called the government to clarify the truth about giving away Chios island through a maritime demarcation agreement between Egypt and Greece.
Al-Hariri told an Egyptian newspaper that the Egyptian parliament has no information on this agreement or the transfer of the island, calling for an official reply from the Egyptian government on the island status.
At an earlier time, several Greek newspapers claims that Egypt gave away Chios island in a maritime demarcation agreement with Greece signed in 2015, pointing that the Greek government has refused to pay $1 million rent payment of the touristic island to the Egyptian endowment according to the contract signed between the Egyptian and the Greek governments in 1997. In addition, the Greek newspapers claimed that the island is now owned by Greece according to the new maritime demarcation agreement.
According to the lawsuit, the island is the fifth largest island in Greece and one of the most important touristic sites as it encloses many Hellenistic, Byzantinean and Islamic touristic monuments, the most prominent of which is the Byzantinean museum, the Ottoman mosque and Mohamed Ali’s Citadel.
The lawsuit has unveiled that Greece is very content with owning the island after the maritime demarcation agreement; as Greek Journalist Staferos Leigeros said that the maritime border demarcation of the economic territory between Egypt and Greee was a dream that has become true. He also added that his country now has the right over Chios island according to the new agreement away from the previous agreements ratified during the Ottoman era.
However, the lawsuit said that the statement of the directer general of the Egypt’s Endowments, Atef Ottoman, ensured that the Chios island is owned by Egypt and the 50-km2 island includes Mohamed Ali’s palace, which is owned by the Egypt’s Endowments. He also said it was agreed that Greece should pay $1million as an annual rent to Egypt, adding that Greece used to pay the island’s rent regularly until his retirement.
In addition, the lawsuit stressed that the president has the right to sign all treaties and agreements according to article 151 of the constitution, but he shouldn’t violate the constitution, adding that the executive power should have studied cautiously the agreement before signing it to make sure it doesn’t violate the constitution pointing that the state shouldn’t have signed the agreement as it is unconstitutional.
The two lawyers, who filed the lawsuit at the Administrative Court, said that signing the agreement that gave away Egypt’s historical rights to the island of Chios -arguing that it lies within the Greek regional waters- has in fact violated the constitution, which nullifies the agreement.
It was mentioned that al-Sisi has decided to order all the land and financial assets of the Egyptian endowments in Greece, including Mohamed Ali’s possessions to support his wrecked economy. In this context, al-Sisi appointed Ibrahim Mahleb -Egypt’s former Prime Minister- to head the committee assigned to conduct a survey of the possessions of the Egyptian endowments to discuss how to benefit from them in supporting the Egyptian eonomy and reducing the budget deficit. Economic Analyst Mamdouh al-Wali said that there is great ambiguity in the role of Mahleb’s committee, saying that the Egyptian Endowments (Ministry) has the documents of its possessions in Egypt and abroad.
In a previous time, a delegation from the Egypt’s endowment traveled to Athens to survey Mohamed Ali’s possessions there. At that time, the minister of endowments announced forming a committee to develop and invest Egypt’s possessions in Greece.
During Mubarak’s era, the idea of selling Mohamed Ali’s palace was suggested but it was rejected by the archeologists, who ensured the historical value of the palace.