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EUROPE >Ankara rebuffs Greece gas complaint to UN

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Ankara rebuffed on Feb. 22 Greece’s complaint to the U.N. regarding Turkey’s decision to grant exploration permits to the country’s state-run oil researcher in the Eastern Mediterranean, saying it would also appeal to the U.N. in order to take “counter steps.” 

Greece claims that the licenses were given to the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) “for areas of the Greek continental shelf” in the Mediterranean Sea, and its Foreign Ministry announced on Feb. 21 that it had submitted a verbal note on the issue to the U.N.

“The note said the Greek claims had no ground in international law,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement released on Feb. 22.

“The licenses that Turkey has given to the TPAO since 2007 are within the borders of the Turkish continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean and Turkey has sovereign rights concerning exploration and drilling for natural sources in these fields. Turkey will continue to use these rights that stem from international law,” the statement added.

The ministry, however highlighted that Turkey would continue to exhaust dialogue channels with Greece for improving relations and resolving problems, while also taking the necessary steps for the protection of its sovereign rights.

The continental shelf dispute stems from the absence of a delimitation agreement between the two countries. It has a bearing on the overall equilibrium of rights and interests in the Aegean, as it concerns areas still to be attributed to Turkey and Greece beyond the six mile territorial sea areas. More than 50 rounds of talks have been held since 2002 in order to find a way to solve the problems stemming from the absence of a border between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean Sea. 

‘Appropriate demarches’ 

Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos has claimed that the areas Turkey had granted exploration permits for in the Mediterranean were deemed to fall within the Greek continental shelf. “Directly after learning of Turkey’s granting of permits, the Greek government proceeded to the appropriate demarches to Turkey,” the Greek Foreign Ministry stated.

Turkey carried out a seismic search for energy sources in the Mediterranean in response to a similar Greek Cypriot search.

The recent tension between the Aegean neighbors came ahead of next month’s second meeting of the High-Level Cooperation Council between the two countries. 

February/22/2013

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