Egypt warns against the repercussions of any unilateral measures that violate Cypriot rights and threaten stability of the Eastern Mediterranean region, in response to Turkey’s planned drilling within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continental shelf.
In an official statement on Sunday, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Hafez said Egypt’s affirms rights and sovereignty of Cyprus over its resources in the Eastern Mediterranean region, in accordance with the international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, including licenced areas granted to Cyprus for offshore oil and gas exploration.
On Sunday, Cyprus accused Turkey of violating the international law after sending its ships for oil exploration in an area that’s already been allocated for energy companies Eni of Italy and Total of France.
Cyprus has been outraged by Turkey’s bid to drill for natural gas amid heightened tensions over energy reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean. Cyprus has been split between Greek and Turkish communities since 1974.
Cyprus said that Turkey is now trying to explore for oil, south of the disputed island, where Eni and Total have concessions.
Despite existing energy-based partnerships between the countries in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey chose “the path of international illegality.”
Turkey had “provocatively ignored” the European Union’s repeated calls to stop illegal activities, and the European Union had also adopted a mechanism to punish individuals or companies involved in illegal excavations off Cyprus.
EU Foreign Policy spokesperson Peter Stano said in a statement on Saturday that it is illegal for Turkey to drill for oil and gas around Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean. The EU has called on Turkey to pull back on its plans.
Turkey’s drilling operations in what Cyprus claims to be its exclusive economic zones in the Mediterranean have long been a disputed item between Ankara and Nicosia as well as in a larger European context.
Turkish ultra-deepwater drillship Yavuz has begun the third cycle of gas exploration drilling in the Mediterranean off the Cypriot southern coast amid overlapping claims with Cyprus on maritime economic zones, a spokesperson for the Turkish Foreign Ministry said Sunday.
This is the third excavation undertaken by Turkey since July, when it deployed two exploration ships, accompanied by warships to the west and east of the island.
It is also the second drilling operation carried out by a Turkish ship in the block in which Total and Eni have obtained the right to mine.
Turkey claims that it is drilling inside its continental shelf and that its actions are in accordance with international law.
Last Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after signing a maritime deal with Libya, Turkey will start exploring for gas in the eastern Mediterranean this year, which outraged neighbouring countries in the Mediterranean.
The Greek Foreign Ministry strongly condemns Turkey’s action, saying that neither have legal effect nor fait accompli, and is violating international law.
This move “forms part of a series of Turkish violations of international law in the region, which extend from invasion and occupation, airspace violations, and violations of territorial waters, to violations of the sovereign rights and attempts of usurpation of the submarine resources of other regional states,” the statement said.
Moreover, Saudi Foreign Ministry said on Sunday, “The Kingdom is following with great interest the current developments in the Eastern Mediterranean region, showing its concern for security and stability there, and stresses its full support for the sovereignty of Cyprus over its territories.”
It also called on all parties to abide by and adhere to Security Council resolutions to resolve disputes, to avoid escalation, to respect the rules of international law and not to interfere in the internal affairs of states or attempts to impose the status quo by force, as that does not serve international peace, security, and stability in this region.