Turkey’s drilling operations in violation of Cyprus’ sovereignty, Mavroyiannis tells UN SG

Turkey’s drilling operations are in violation of the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus in its territorial sea and its sovereign rights and jurisdiction in its continental shelf and EEZ, Cyprus’ Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Andreas Mavroyiannis has said, noting that Cyprus remains determined to uphold its rights to maritime zones and protect its sovereign rights and jurisdiction to explore and exploit its natural resources within its continental shelf and EEZ.

In a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on January 20, Mavroyiannis replies to a letter by Turkey’s Permanent Representative to the organization, Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioglu, dated November 13 on the matter.

Regrettably, the letter reads, Turkey continues to pursue a course of action which is in contravention of international law, putting forward claims that are legally unfounded and go beyond any plausible geographical limits.

On top of that, since May 2019, Turkey has illegally conducted four drilling operations using the State-owned vessels Fatih and Yavuz, in Cyprus’ territorial sea and continental shelf/EEZ, to the west, east and south of the island; the most recently completed illegal drilling was located in the eastern EEZ/continental shelf of Cyprus, in close vicinity of its territorial sea, at 12.4 nautical miles from the Karpas peninsula, It adds.

What is more, Mavroyiannis continues in his letter, Turkey has just commenced a fifth such illegal drilling, planned between 18 January and 14 May 2020, in the southern EEZ/continental shelf of Cyprus, in a maritime area which has been delimited in accordance with international law between Cyprus and the relevant coastal States, namely Israel and Egypt.

This latest illegal drilling also lies within exploration block 8 which was duly licensed by the Republic of Cyprus to the European companies Eni and Total, he points out.

The aforementioned drilling operations by Turkey are in violation of the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus in its territorial sea and its sovereign rights and jurisdiction in its continental shelf and EEZ, under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as well as customary international law, Mavroyiannis stresses.

At the same time, he says, the ongoing illegal seismic surveys by Turkish vessels Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa and Oruc Reisin large areas of the southern EEZ/continental shelf of Cyprus likewise violate Cyprus’ sovereign rights therein.

The Republic of Cyprus reiterates that it remains determined to uphold its rights to maritime zones and protect its sovereign rights and jurisdiction to explore and exploit its natural resources within its continental shelf and EEZ, using all peaceful means at its disposal, in good faith and within the framework of international law.

Any efforts by Turkey to undermine those rights, including through the submission of geographical coordinates of its alleged continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean as well as its illegal exploration activities and intense military presence, further stray Turkey away from international legality and increase tensions, putting at risk the peace and security of the entire region, he notes.

Cyprus remains 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.

Source: Cyprus News Agency