Licensing of blocks affecting interests of third parties is unacceptable, Nicosia says

Cyprus Government Spokesman Kyriakos Koushos has told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that any licensing of a block for oil and gas exploration affecting the interests of third parties or is the result of the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between Turkey and Libya is contrary to the international law and cannot be accepted.

Koushos was invited to comment on a news report by Phileleftheros daily according to which Turkey will proceed with licensing the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) for oil and gas exploration in an area of the maritime zone that it has agreed with Libya. Asked how Nicosia will address such an action, the spokesman said that our long-standing position is that there must be cooperation among the states in the region to delimitate their Exclusive Economic Zones and that any action that is undertaken unilaterally and violates the sovereign rights of third states cannot be accepted as it contradicts the international law.

The spokesman reiterated that the MoU signed between Turkey and Libya does not have an effect and that its provisions are contrary to the provisions of the Law of the Sea and affect the rights of third countries. Moreover, he recalled that the EU as well as many other countries have denounced the signing of this MoU. Therefore, we consider that any licensing of a block within a zone that affects the rights of third parties or is the result of the signing of the MoU will be contrary to the international law, Koushos noted.

Asked about the fact that French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle is expected to arrive soon to the Eastern Mediterranean, the spokesman said that we consider that this action has been undertaken by France to underline its presence in the Eastern Mediterranean and the protection of its interests in the region.

Obviously the arrival of the French aircraft carrier in the Eastern Mediterranean bears importance in light of everything that is going on in the region, including the Libyan issue and the violation and questioning of the sovereign rights of countries in the region, he added.

Asked about the meeting which the German Chancellor Angela Merkel had on Friday with the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Koushos said that Nicosia was expecting to be informed by the German side about what was discussed during the meeting concerning Cyprus.

President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades, asked on Thursday the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, to convey a message to the President of Turkey, for the immediate termination of Turkish illegal activities in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone, while calling on Turkey to conform with the relevant European Council decisions and conclusions.

Koushos said that there was a reference on Cyprus during the statements made after the meeting something which shows that issues concerning Cyprus were discussed. We now expect to be informed about this discussion, he noted.

Turkey has dispatched drillship Yavuz to conduct a drilling operation off the south of the island of Cyprus, that has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks for a Cyprus settlement have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

The Cyprus government has condemned Turkey’s newly planned illegal drilling within the Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf of the Republic of Cyprus, noting that Turkey, provocatively ignoring the repeated calls by the international community and the European Union, to terminate its illegal activities in Cyprus’ EEZ, is now attempting to carry out a “new illegal drilling in the southern EEZ/continental shelf of Cyprus, inside exploration block 8, which was duly licensed to the European companies ENI and TOTAL”.

“This new attempted drilling constitutes yet another flagrant violation of the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of the Republic of Cyprus under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, as well as the relevant customary International Law, and completely disregards the international EEZ delimitation agreements already in force between Cyprus and Israel, and Cyprus and Egypt, respectively,” a statement issued by the Presidency of Cyprus has said.

Source: Cyprus News Agency