Turkey’s reaction to news that the government has awarded the rights for the exploration of offshore Block 5 to the ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum consortium, demonstrates, yet again, Ankara’s utter disregard for conventional and customary international law, the foreign ministry said on Friday.

In response to a warning by Ankara that it will never allow any foreign country, company or vessel to engage in unauthorised hydrocarbon exploration activities in what it calls as its maritime jurisdiction areas, the foreign ministry said Block 5 lies within the EEZ/continental shelf of Cyprus.

“The exploration and/or exploitation of Block 5 is an exclusive sovereign right of Cyprus and does not affect the rights of any third state, including Turkey,” the ministry said in a statement.

Block 5, it added, lies within the exclusive economic zone/continental shelf of Cyprus, in a marine area to the south-west of the island, already delimited since 2003 in accordance with international law, between the relevant opposite coastal states, the Republic of Cyprus and the Arab Republic of Egypt.

“The expansion of ExxonMobil’s presence in Cyprus’ EEZ/continental shelf constitutes a vote of confidence to Cyprus’ energy strategy,” it added.

Turkey deliberately fails, once again, it said, to comply with international law, by making groundless claims and disregarding the position of the international community in full support of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus in its own EEZ/continental shelf.

“The Republic of Cyprus will resolutely continue its policy in the field of hydrocarbons, in full respect of international and European law,” the ministry said.

The Turkish foreign ministry said on Thursday the move by the Cypriot government was a unilateral one and ignored Turkey’s and Turkish Cypriots’ rights. It also said that this move, was once again made clear “who is really in favour of inciting tension in the Eastern Mediterranean.”

Ankara said that “part of the so-called licence area in question violates Turkey’s continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean” while it also ignores the rights of the Turkish Cypriots, who are the co-owners of the island.

Turkey claims around 40 per cent of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone as its own.

Cabinet on Thursday awarded natural gas exploration rights for offshore Block 5 to the consortium in question. ExxonMobil would be administering the Block 5 concession with a share of 60 per cent. Qatar Petroleum will have the 40 per cent share.