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As Turkey Squeezes, Egypt Backs Cyprus’ Energy Drilling Rights

February 6, 2018

Egypt has rejected claims by Turkey that it controls an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) held by Cyprus in an offshore area where international companies are drilling in hopes of discovering oil and gas.

Ahmad Abu Zeit, spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said Turkey is also trying to encroach on its EEZ and undermine Egyptian sovereignty and waters as tension grows in the region over the hunt for energy that could also be shipped to the European Union if found.

Egypt and Cyprus are working together in part of that quest and Zeit said that,  “No party could question the legitimacy of the agreement given that it is in line with the regulations of international law and has been submitted to the United Nations,” the Cyprus Mail said.

Replying to questions, Abu Zeit warned that any effort to undermine the sovereign rights of Egypt in the region will be rejected.

Turkey has sent research vessels and warships into the Cypriot waters before and demanded a share of any revenues that are found as it still occupies the northern third of the island after an unlawful 1974 invasion.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, stepping up tension in the Aegean, said his country is “prepared to take all necessary measures” to protect the its alleged rights over the seas and continental shelf it claims to own, including off Cyprus, where international companies are drilling for oil and gas.

In an interview with Kathimerini, he said that Block 6 of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) belongs to Turkey and that there is no sea border between Greece and Cyprus as Turkey does not recognize the Law of the Seas nor Cyprus.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sent research vessels and a warship before into Cypriot sovereign waters and demanded a share of any potential find as the legitimate government of President Nicos Anastasiades is stepping up the energy hunt.

“After thorough examination, we have clearly stated that the agreement violates Turkey’s continental shelf in areas falling beyond longitude 32Γ 16’ 18” west. This agreement is therefore null and void, according to international law,” he said, without noting Turkey doesn’t accept that law.

“We have also submitted to the UN our objection to the Greek hydrocarbon law which contradicts the well-established rules and principles of international law by attempting to unilaterally define “the outer limits of the Greek continental shelf boundaries through a median line between continental land masses and insular formations, in particular such as the very small island of Kastellorizo,” he told the paper.

“Turkey fully exercises its sovereign rights over its continental shelf. No foreign country, company, or vessel may conduct any unauthorized hydrocarbon or scientific research activity on Turkey’s continental shelf and the marine areas superjacent to it. This is a very clear fact,” he added.

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