The government has described as totally unfounded and contrary to international law Turkey’s claims on Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone, and called on Ankara to end its illegal, provocative and arrogant behavior with regard to the Republic’s exploratory drilling for hydrocarbons.
Nicosia told Ankara to steer clear from issuing threats, pointing out that it is determined to proceed with exploitation of its natural resources and to protect its rights with peaceful means in line with international law.
A Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release issued here on Friday replies to an announcement by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Wednesday, which warns that should the Republic continue with the second licensing round for the exploration of natural gas within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone, then Turkey will increase tension in the region.
“The Republic of Cyprus calls on Turkey to end its illegal, provocative and arrogant behavior to steer clear from issuing threats and to adhere to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea”, the Foreign Ministry states.
It further calls on Turkey to “try to resolve any problems it allegedly has in accordance with international law, which it continues to violate and treat with contempt”.
Creating tension in the region is neither to the benefit of any country, nor to the benefit of peace and prosperity in the region, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs notes.
It is further stated that the Republic of Cyprus, a UN and EU member state, exercises in the same way as any other state of the international community, all its sovereign rights deriving from international law, within its territory and its maritime boundaries, including within its EEZ and its continental shelf, as provided by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which the Republic has ratified in 1988.
“The Republic of Cyprus is determined to proceed with the exploitation of its natural resources, particularly with regard to hydrocarbons, for economic development and prosperity of its entire people without any discrimination”, the Ministry stresses.
Exploitation and use of these reserves may significantly enhance energy security, particularly for the EU, the Ministry adds.
The Ministry recalls that the EU General Affairs Council has reaffirmed in its Conclusions of December 2011, all sovereign rights of member states which include among others the signing of bilateral agreements as well as the exploration and exploitation of their natural resources in accordance with the acquits communautaire and international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The Ministry further recalls that the EU Council called for refraining from threats or action against any EU member state or moves which could endanger neighborly relations and the peaceful resolution of differences.
“The message sent by the EU to Turkey was clear and strong”, the Ministry points out, adding that “it seems that Turkey chose to completely ignore the EU”.
Referring to Turkey’s allegations that part of Cyprus’ blocks included in the second licensing round belong to Turkey’s continental shelf, the Ministry states that they are “unfounded and contrary to international law”.
According to the Ministry, Turkey’s allegations prove once more that its aim is not the protection of the rights of the Turkish Cypriots, as it claims, since it alleges that a significant part of western, southern and northern areas of Cyprus’ EEZ and continental shelf belong to Ankara, to the detriment of the entire people of Cyprus
Expressing the view that it is obvious that Turkey’s aim is to promote its expansionist designs, the Republic of Cyprus expresses confidence that Turkish demands and threats will be condemned once more by the international community as a serious provocation against international legality.
The Republic, the Ministry states, “is determined to protect its rights using all peaceful means at its disposal, in line with international law”.
Referring to the ongoing UN led negotiations which aim to reunite the island, divided in 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third, the Ministry states that the government participates in the talks with good will and is committed to the reunification of Cyprus and its people.
The second licensing round for the exploration of hydrocarbons within the Republic’s EEZ has nothing to do with the ongoing process for the resolution of the Cyprus issue, it is pointed out.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs recalls that in the context of the talks it has already been agreed that the exploitation of natural resources will fall within the remit of powers exercised by the federal government.
Turkey, whose troops occupy Cyprus’ northern part since they invaded in 1974, does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus.
Recently, Nicosia announced in the Official Journal of the EU a call for an international tender for off-shore hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation within the Republic’s Economic Exclusive Zone, signaling the initiation of a second round of licensing.
On Wednesday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said Nicosia’s new licensing round in the area could lead to tension in the region.
In response to Cypriot exploration activities, Ankara has deployed in the past warships in the Eastern Mediterranean and has signed an illegal agreement with the Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus to delineate what it calls continental shelf.
The government of Cyprus has protested to the UN and the EU Turkey’s moves, saying it has a sovereign right to exploit its natural resources, pointing out that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots will benefit from any benefits that may come from oil drilling.
Cyprus has signed an agreement to delineate the Exclusive Economic Zone with Egypt and Israel with a view to exploit any possible natural gas and oil reserves in its EEZ. A similar agreement has been signed with Lebanon but the Lebanese Parliament has not yet ratified it.