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Turkey sends letter to UNSG questioning validity of Cyprus’ EEZ (Update: adds govt spokesman)

Turkey, in a letter to the UN Secretary General, has attempted to associate the delimitation of the median line in the Aegean between Greece and Turkey with the delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Republic of Cyprus, CNA reported on Thursday.

The letter came in response to a letter from Cyprus’ Permanent Representative Nicos Emiliou regarding Turkish provocations, in which he had expressed the government`s “grave concern” over Turkey`s claims questioning the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus to its exclusive economic zone and its exploration and exploitation of natural reserves.

In his letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, which circulated as an official document of the General Assembly and the Security Council in April, Emiliou, noted that Turkey’s fulfillment of all its obligations arising from the UN Charter and international law was the only mutually beneficial way forward.

Turkey does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus and refuses to normalise relations with Nicosia, in spite of repeated calls by the EU, which it aspires to join. Turkey has not signed the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Turkey’s Representative Y. Halit Çevik said in his letter that “as the country with the longest continental coastline in the eastern Mediterranean, Turkey has registered with the United Nations that it has ipso facto and ab initio legal and sovereign rights in the maritime areas of the eastern Mediterranean that are west of meridian 32°16`18″E.”

The Turkish Representative also said that “it is Turkey’s well-considered position that the outer limits of the Turkish continental shelf in the above-mentioned maritime areas follow the median line between the Turkish and Egyptian coastlines”. The western terminal point of the median line, he added, “will be determined in accordance with the outcome of future delimitation agreements in the Aegean Sea and in the Mediterranean among all States concerned, taking into account all relevant and special circumstances.”

Cevik recalled that Turkey raised its objections to, and its non-recognition of the agreement between the “Greek Cypriot Administration” and the Arab Republic of Egypt on the “delimitation of the exclusive economic zone.”

He claimed that “several of the so-called hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation licence areas declared by the Greek Cypriots partly remain within Turkey’s continental shelf” and drew the UNSG’s attention “to the fact that, in the latest round of the “international tender” mentioned in the aforementioned letter, one of the tendered areas lies directly on the Turkish continental shelf.”

Concluding, Cevik said “Turkey refutes all the allegations contained in the letter of the Greek Cypriot representative.”

Commenting on Turkey’s letter, Government Spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said that when Cyprus on March 24 announced the third licensing round, the Turkish foreign ministry went to public contesting the right of the Republic.

After this action by the Turkish foreign ministry, the Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the United Nations sent a letter to the UN Security Council and the Secretary General, outlining the Cypriot positions, he said.

“The Republic of Cyprus has nothing to worry about. All actions are carried out under international law, under the relevant Convention of the Law of the Sea signed in 1982, and we have nothing to worry about with the resumption of the Turkish argument,” he said.

He also reiterated, when asked on the effect it might have on the talks, that the Cyprus negotiations had “nothing to do with the exercise of sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus which are not suspended due to the existence of talks”.

Asked about a meeting on Thursday at the Presidential Palace on the Cyprus issue, with the participation of Chief negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis with constitutional expert Claire Palley, the spokesman said that the meeting was held within the framework of “regular consultations”.

“Indeed Mrs Palley has strengthened the negotiating team and in this context is now involved, and she is a very good connoisseur of the Cyprus negotiations and what is discussed at the negotiating table,” the spokesman said.

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