Cyprus condemns Turkish-Libya MoU on delimitation of maritime zones

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Cyprus condemns the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Turkey and the UN-backed Libyan government to delimitate maritime zones between the two countries.

“This kind of delimitation, if it went through, would constitute a grave violation of International Law, since it would disregard the legal rights of all coastal states in the Eastern Mediterranean,” said a Cyprus Foreign Ministry statement.

It said the move is “contrary to the acknowledged principle of the Convention on the Law of the Sea and of customary law regarding the rights of islands to EEZs and continental shelf”.

Nicosia said the agreement has no legal effect that would interfere with the legal rights of the Republic of Cyprus or that of other coastal states.

“By distorting the rules of the Law of the Sea and misrepresenting geography, Turkey will not be able to assert a legal footing in the Eastern Mediterranean.”

“The actions of Turkey prove once more that its position regarding international law is a minority of one,” the ministry added.

The Foreign Ministry said the same holds of Turkey’s incursion into Cyprus waters to drill for hydrocarbons in an area designated as a Cypriot exclusive economic zone. Turkey doesn’t recognise Cyprus as a state.

Cyprus joins Egypt and Greece in denouncing the two security cooperation and maritime MoUs signed by Turkey and Libya as having has “no legal effect”.

According to Egypt’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez, Minster Sameh Shoukry called both of his Greek and Cypriot counterparts to discuss the newly signed MoUs.

The new agreements were signed at a meeting on Wednesday between Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Fayez al-Serraj, the head of the Tripoli-based government which Ankara is backing against a rival military force based in eastern Libya.

“This means protecting Turkey’s rights deriving from international law,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said of the memorandum of understanding on the “delimitation of maritime jurisdictions”.

He said that such accords could be agreed with other countries if differences could be overcome and that Ankara was in favour of “fair sharing” of resources, including off Cyprus.

But Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said any maritime accord between Libya and Turkey “ignores something that is blatantly obvious, which is that between those two countries there is the large geographical landmass of Crete.

“Consequently, such an attempt borders on the absurd.”

Egypt, which has been at odds with Turkey since the Egyptian military overthrew Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in 2013, condemned the deal as “illegal and not binding or affecting the interests and the rights of any third parties”.

Tensions are already running high between Athens and Ankara because of Turkish drilling in the eastern Mediterranean off the coast of the divided island of Cyprus, and the European Union has prepared sanctions against Turkey in response.

The internationally recognized government in Tripoli confirmed the new agreements but gave no details.