QA: 6, 23 March 2012, Statement of the Spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey in Response to a Question

We have learnt from the İzmir Dokuzeylül University that the Research Vessel Piri Reis is currently carrying out a scientific research in the international waters of the Aegean as well as in Turkish territorial waters until 29 March 2012. The research, also supported by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK), was planned last year and the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission has been informed about it in due course. This is a biological and oceanographic research activity and is not aimed in any way at oil and gas explorations.

The Aegean continental shelf has not yet been delimited between Turkey and Greece, and accordingly the moratorium pertaining to the freezing of all oil and gas exploration activities beyond the territorial waters in the Aegean Sea, as agreed by both countries under 1976 Bern Agreement is still valid.

Yet, academic marine surveys beyond the scope of this moratorium are conducted without any restriction by both countries in the international waters of the Aegean. Both countries do not require any prior permission or consent of and reciprocal notification to each otherthrough official channels for the conduct of such surveys beyond the territorial waters in the Aegean Sea.

On the other hand, the Dokuz Eylül University is very much interested in carrying out these researches together with Greek universities and in developing joint scientific projects with them. Our Ministry supports this positive and constructive approach.

We disagree with the argument that the whole Aegean Sea is the Greek continental shelf.This claim is not compatible with the international law. We maintain the view that an equitable and lasting solution should be reached for all outstanding Aegean issues including the delimitation of the continental shelf and that the current dialogue channels should remain open accordingly.