#

30 January 2007, Press Release Regarding the efforts of the Greek Cypriot Administration of Southern Cyprus to sign bilateral agreements concerning maritime jurisdiction areas with the countries in the Eastern Mediterranean

  

Since 2003, the Greek Cypriot Administration of Southern Cyprus has intensified its efforts to sign bilateral agreements concerning maritime jurisdiction areas with the countries in the Eastern Mediterranean. From the outset, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and Turkey have rejected these attempts and declared that the delineation of continental shelf as well as the exclusive economic zone in a semi-enclosed sea like the Eastern Mediterranean could only be possible through arrangements to be made among all the countries concerned and by observing the rights and interests of all the parties.

In this vein, it has been registered both with Egypt and the United Nations that the exclusive economic zone agreement between the Greek Cypriot Authorities and Egypt, which despite objections, was signed on 17 February 2003, was not recognized by Turkey. Contacts with Egypt on this issue continue.

Upon information that negotiations were underway on the same subject matter between Lebanon and the Greek Cypriot side, demarches had been made at the level of Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister of Lebanon. Although assurances were given that such an agreement was not to be signed, following the news on 15-16 January in the press about the signing of such an agreement between Lebanon and the Greek Cypriot side, additional demarches were made both in Ankara and in Beirut. However, it is learned that the said agreement was signed on 17 January 2007. Accordingly, clarification has been sought from the Lebanese Authorities about the nature of the agreement, while it has also been requested that the said agreement was not given effect in any case.

In light of recent news regarding the adoption of a law in the Greek Cypriot Parliament to regulate exploration of maritime oil fields around the Island of Cyprus, it is deemed necessary to draw attention, once again, to legal and political aspects of the subject matter.

As has already been stated, the TRNC also has rights and authority over the maritime areas around the Island of Cyprus. Moreover, Greek Cypriots do not represent the Island as a whole. Consequently, neither the legislation adopted nor the bilateral agreements concluded by the Greek Cypriot Authorities have any effect. In addition, it must also be kept in mind that Turkey has legitimate and legal rights and interests in the Eastern Mediterranean. Parts of the maritime areas that are subject of bilateral agreements intended to be concluded by the Greek Cypriot Authorities also concern Turkey’s stated rights and interests. Turkey is determined to protect its rights and interests in the Eastern Mediterranean and will not allow any attempt to undermine them.

In this context, we would like to remind those countries and companies that might consider conducting research for oil and gas exploration, based on invalid licenses Greek Cypriot Authorities may contemplate to issue for maritime areas around the Island of Cyprus, to take into account the sensitivity of the situation as well as the will of the Turkish Cypriots, the other constituent people of the Island, and expect them to refrain from any endeavor that might negatively affect the settlement process of the Cyprus issue and to act accordingly."