Turkey vows to protect Turkish Cyprus’ interests in Eastern Mediterranean

Turkey vows to protect Turkish Cyprus’ interests in Eastern Mediterranean

Turkey vows to protect Turkish Cyprus’ interests in Eastern Mediterranean

A U.S. statement on Turkey’s drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean is “detached from the facts,” said the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

“Our drilling and seismic vessels exploration activities will continue in the license areas in our continental shelf which our government has provided to TP in 2009 and 2012,” said the ministry in a statement on May 6.

“Likewise, Turkey will continue to protect the continental shelf rights of Turkish Cypriots as long as the Greek Cypriot does not include its equal partner of the island Turkish Cypriots in the decision-making process for hydrocarbon resources or unless it ends unilateral hydrocarbon activities,” added the ministry.

The ministry noted that Turkey has clearly demonstrated its attitude toward the continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean since 2004.

The Turkish MFA recalled its position on the Exclusive Economic Zone agreements that Greek Cypriots have been sealing with regional countries, stressing those deals are not valid neither for Turkey nor for Turkish Cypriots.

The statement noted that Turkey declared its continental shelf in the region and registered at the United Nations.

“The equality-based restriction agreements in the region under international law rules between all the relevant riparian are not yet completed,” said the statement.

“While this is the case, it is unacceptable for third parties replace them with international courts and try to determine where the maritime borders will pass by,” said the statement. 

“In this sense, the US calls to Turkey on a region which Greek says ‘they claim rights’ as if there were valid limitation agreement not constructive nor appropriate approach to international law,” said the statement.

“The United States is deeply concerned by Turkey’s announced intentions to begin offshore drilling operations in an area claimed by the Republic of Cyprus as its Exclusive Economic Zone,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said on May 5. “This step is highly provocative and risks raising tensions in the region. We urge Turkish authorities to halt these operations and encourage all parties to act with restraint.”

The European Union also has expressed deep concern over Turkey’s plans for offshore drilling operations in an area claimed by Greek Cyprus as its exclusive economic zone, adding to tensions between Ankara and its Western allies. The Turkish Foreign Ministry subsequently issued a statement rejecting Mogherini’s comments and saying that Ankara would protect its interests and the rights of northern Cyprus.

The statements over the weekend came after Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said “we are starting drilling” in the region. Çavuşoğlu said that Turkish seismic research vessel Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa was continuing work in the region.

The Turkish side and the Greek Cypriot government have overlapping claims of jurisdiction for offshore oil and gas research in the eastern Mediterranean, a region thought to be rich in natural gas.