Any challenge or provocation to the delimitation agreements Cyprus has concluded, was a challenge to all countries in the region, but also to rule-based international order, Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Christodoulides said on Monday.
Addressing the conference ‘Southeast Europe & East Med: New strategies – new perspectives’ in Washington on Monday, Christodoulides said the delimitation of our seas had created “a new regional dynamic and a new diplomatic framework.”
He underlined that Cyprus was a defender of international law, including the Law of the Sea, “and in this spirit we are ready to negotiate delimitation agreements with all countries in the region, without any exception, always in accordance with international law, including UNCLOS [United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea].”
Christodoulides said these agreements had created greater transparency and legal certainty based on international law, ushered in a new economic border structure and set up a new framework for dialogue and multilateral cooperation around a concrete shared goal.
Thanks to these agreements, major oil and gas companies decided to invest and do business in the Eastern Mediterranean, and have signed production sharing contracts with Cyprus, he said. They were present in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone and carried out exploratory drilling and development activities.
He also noted that, 10 days ago, the government approved a $9.3 bln natural gas development plan with Shell, US Noble and Israel’s Delek for Block 12 (in the Cypriot EEZ), that involves the construction of an underwater pipeline to export natural gas to an LNG plant in Egypt.
“These developments constitute a clear vote of confidence in Cyprus’ energy strategy, but also send a loud and clear message to those who find themselves in a minority of one, when they arbitrarily decide to question and violate Cyprus’ sovereignty and sovereign rights,” Christodoulides said, in reference to Turkey.
“Needless to say that any challenge or provocation to the delimitation agreements Cyprus has concluded is a challenge to all countries in the region, but also to rule-based international order,” he stated.
Cyprus was a defender of International Law, including the Law of the Sea, he said and referred to “the invitation we have repeatedly extended to Turkey, expressing our readiness to start negotiations on the delimitation of our maritime zones.”
“The re-drawing of the energy map in the Eastern Mediterranean, coupled with our conviction that the region’s natural resources can be used as a tool for cooperation and a platform for synergies, triggered the development of multilateral cooperation in the region that has gradually become a driver of change,” he stressed.
He was referring to the Trilateral Cooperation Mechanisms that Cyprus has established together with Greece and neighboring countries (Egypt / Israel / Lebanon / Jordan / Palestine). These were a prime example of this multilateral cooperation, founded on International Law. Christodoulides added these networks of cooperation constituted a prime example of what can be achieved when countries with common concerns and shared interests and vision join powers, rather than isolate themselves.
He said that trilateral partnerships that started from the field of energy were constantly expanding in new fields such as security, defence, counter terrorism, education, economy, industry and tourism.