Cyprus and Lebanon agreed to start negotiations on the exploitation of hydrocarbon reserves straddling the median line between their respective exclusive economic zones (EEZ), it was announced on Thursday.
A statement said Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides, and Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, held talks in Beirut on Thursday with Lebanon’s Foreign and Energy Ministers, Gebran Bassil and Nada Boustani, respectively.
Among others, the four ministers discussed issues concerning the cooperation between Cyprus and Lebanon in the energy and energy security sectors in the broader region of the Eastern Mediterranean.
Speaking after the meeting, Christodoulides said they reviewed bilateral relations and looked into ways to broaden and deepen them further and had an in-depth, results-oriented discussion on energy matters.
The Cypriot foreign minister they also reaffirmed support of the sovereign right to explore and exploit their natural resources, located in the respective maritime areas, in line with international law and in particular the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which both countries are signatories.
Cyprus respects and supports the sovereign rights and the jurisdiction of all countries in the region, including Lebanon, within their maritime zones, on the basis of international law, he added.
Christodoulides said they agreed on the need to use the momentum following energy developments in the region as a catalyst to enhance bilateral cooperation further.
In this respect, he said, they agreed to immediately commence talks to conclude a bilateral framework agreement regarding the development of hydrocarbon reserves extending in both sides of the median line between their respective EEZs.
According to the minister, such an agreement would send a strong message of cooperation between the two countries and provide companies wishing to invest in the exploration of hydrocarbons in the area with the necessary legal security.
The two countries signed an EEZ delineation agreement in 2007 but Lebanon has yet to ratify it.
Christodoulides said the two sides agreed to start discussions to conclude an agreement for the protection of underwater cultural heritage from illegal excavations, within their jurisdiction.