Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Monday said the United States and Qatar have assured Turkey that ExxonMobil and Qatar Energy will stay out of its continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu’s remarks come just days after the companies were given an energy exploration license in disputed waters.
Earlier this month, Ankara accused the Greek Cypriot administration of violating its continental shelf by awarding the license, saying it would “never allow” anyone to carry out an unauthorized exploration in its jurisdiction.
The Greek Cypriot administration has refused the claim, vowing to continue.
The hydrocarbon exploration license was awarded for the so-called “Section 5” of Greek Cyprus’ self-declared exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which lies south, southwest of the island, and which Turkey says overlaps with its own continental shelf.
“No matter who they are, they cannot enter our continental shelf without our permission,” Çavuşoğlu told Parliament during his ministry’s budget talks.
“Therefore, in this accord on Section 5, both countries – the United States and Qatar – have guaranteed that they will not enter our continental shelf,” he said, adding the companies will remain south of Turkey’s declared continental shelf.
ExxonMobil and Qatar Energy signed a contract Friday for oil and gas exploration and production-sharing off the island despite Turkey’s opposition to the deal.
The companies are expected to start exploration in the first half of next year.
Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected the maritime boundary claims of Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, stressing that these excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of both Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC)
Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed that Ankara is in favor of resolving all outstanding problems in the region through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue and negotiation.
Turkey has also criticized the European Union’s stance on the Eastern Mediterranean conflict, calling on the bloc to adopt a fair attitude regarding the dispute and give up favoring Greece under the pretext of European Union solidarity.
Ankara sent its drillships searching for energy on its continental shelf, asserting its own rights in the region as well as those of the TRNC.
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