Britain has called on Turkey not to commence drilling off Cyprus but still maintains that the island’s exclusive economic zone is disputed waters.
Pro-Cyprus, north London Conservative MP Theresa Villiers asked the Foreign Secretary if he will make representations to his Turkish counterpart on the incursion into the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone in the Eastern Mediterranean of drilling ships from Turkey.
The response from Foreign Office Minister for Africa Harriett Baldwin said: Our position remains unchanged: we continue to recognise the sovereign right of the Republic of Cyprus to exploit the oil and gas in its internationally agreed Exclusive Economic Zone.
With reference to Turkey’s planned drilling, the position of the UK is that, in line with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, exploratory drilling should not proceed in any area where sovereignty is under dispute.
Baldwin added: We have called on Turkey not to drill in this area. Sir Alan Duncan had made this clear to the Turkish Ambassador in London and the British Ambassador to Ankara has engaged with the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to urge de-escalation.
She said the UK continues to believe Cyprus’ oil and gas should be developed for the benefit of all Cypriots.
Nicosia has already protested to Britain over its stance on the issue, arguing that its EEZ is legitimate and sovereign. It says the only dispute that comes into play is from Turkey not formally recognising the Republic of Cyprus.
Source: The Financial Mirror