In a letter to the United Nations, Turkey’s UN Permanent Representative threatens Cyprus but also oil giants ENI and TOTAL over offshore hydrocarbon exploration in Block 6 in Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone. Ankara not only disputes the possibility of Cyprus to carry out exploration or give licenses but also declares in the most formal way that Block 6 belongs to Turkish continental shelf.
Practically, Turkey claims that almost the whole of the continental shelf of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea shelf is shared between Turkey and Egypt, with Cyprus and even Greece’s continental shelves to be restricted within the limits of the territorial waters.
In his letter to UN General Assembly dated April 12 2017, Ankara’s permanent representative, Ferrindu Sinirlioglu, writes that:
“Turkey will not allow foreign companies to conduct unauthorised hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation activities on its continental shelf, within which Cyprus’ block 6 falls.”
The letter expresses Turkey’s “grave concern regarding the provocative act by the Greek Cypriot Administration” – as it calls the Republic of Cyprus – to grant a licence for block 6 of its exclusive economic zone, which “partially falls within the outer limits of Turkey’s continental shelf in the eastern Mediterranean”.
“Turkey is committed to protecting its sovereign rights emanating from international law and will not allow foreign companies to conduct unauthorised hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation activities on its continental shelf, as it was strongly underlined in several statements on the issue by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, most recently on 6 April 2017,” the letter said.
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In a letter to UN last year, Turkey had claimed not only that it is “the country with the longest continental coastline in the eastern Mediterranean” but also that its continental shelf extends up to the one of Egypt.
Cypriot media consider Ankara’s letter of April 2017 as a threat containing ‘casus belli’.
Ankara’s letter to UN is to be published also to the Law of the Sea Bulletin.
Talking of international law and how to respect or violate it. In Ankara, Yigit Bulut, the chief advisor of president Tayyip Erdogan, said Northern Cyprus must be annexed to Turkey, turn into a province and ruled by an Ankara-appointed governor.
Turkey has been illegally occupying the North part of Cyprus since 1974. The so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, is a self-declared state recognized only by Turkey.