Turkey says rejects French statement on drilling activities in the East Mediterranean

Published 07.05.2019 21:05
Updated 08.05.2019 16:57
Turkey says rejects French statement on drilling activities in the East Mediterranean

The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs late Monday rejected a statement made by the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, which referred to Turkey's drilling activities "in its own continental shelf" in the Eastern Mediterranean as "concerning", and said such statements were unacceptable.

"We reject the statement made today (May 7) by the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, which refers to Turkey's drilling activities in its own continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean," the statement said.

"In this respect, our press releases dated 4 May 2019, No: 124 and dated 6 May 2019, No: 128 are valid for France as well," the ministry added referring to two previous press statements against similar comments from the U.S. and EU.

On Monday, Turkey condemned a Washington statement on Turkey's drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.

"Turkey has made its position explicitly clear regarding its continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean since 2004," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"Since then, we have brought to the attention of relevant countries and the international community that the Greek Cypriot Administration's EEZ delimitation agreements with the countries in the region are not valid for Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots and one of these agreements violates Turkey's continental shelf rights," the statement added.

The ministry on Saturday also rejected another statement made by Federica Mogherini, the high representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, regarding Turkey's hydrocarbon exploration activities in the area.

As the country with the longest coastline in the region, Turkey is determined to protect its "own rights and interests within our continental shelf" as well as those of the Turkish Cypriots on the island of Cyprus, it said in a statement.

"We express grave concern over Turkey's announced intention to carry out drilling activities within the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus," Mogherini had said, calling on Turkey "to show restraint" and end its "continued illegal actions."

The ministry had blasted Mogherini's statement, saying that "Turkey's hydrocarbon-related activities in the Eastern Mediterranean region are based on its legitimate rights stemming from international law."

"As we previously stressed on many occasions, having the longest coastal line in the region, we will protect our own rights and interests within our continental shelf, as well as those of the Turkish Cypriots around the Cyprus Island. To date Turkey has not refrained from taking the necessary steps in this context, and will not do so in the future," it said.

The ministry underscored that the country's energy diplomacy was not conducted on the basis of commercial interests, reiterating that Turkey "advocates the role of energy as a source of peace rather than as a source of conflict."

"Turkey knows that natural resources can play an important role in increasing peace and stability," it noted.

However, it added that Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus cannot be excluded from the energy equation in the region.

Turkey dispatched its drilling vessel Fatih on Friday from the southern port of Antalya with three support vessels and a frigate toward its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) west of the island of Cyprus to launch drilling second well in the Eastern Mediterranean. The vessel will continue operations until Sept. 3.

The Fatih will conduct exploratory activities at longitude 31 29 25 east and 34 55 32 north latitude. The Fatih started well-drilling operations in late October 2018 off the coast of Antalya, a Mediterranean coastal province. While the 229-meter vessel can drill to a maximum depth of 12,192 meters, the first well will reach a depth of 5,500 meters.

On Tuesday, the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry censured the comments from the U.S. Department of State and EU on Turkey's drilling operations in the Eastern Mediterranean. The ministry said the comments on Turkey's drilling activities on "its own continental shelf" are unacceptable, the ministry said.

The statement emphasized that the seismic surveys of the Barbaros Hayreddin Paşa and drilling operations of by the Fatih in the Eastern Mediterranean are based on Turkey's legitimate rights ensuing from international law.

Turkey's continental shelf rights lay in the area to the west of 32 degrees 16 minutes 18 seconds east longitude. The outer limits of the Turkish continental shelf in the above-mentioned maritime areas follow the median line between the Turkish and Egyptian coastlines to a point to be determined in the west of 28 degrees 00 minutes 00 seconds east longitude. The unilaterally declared EEZ of the Greek Cypriot administration violates part of Turkey's shelf, particularly in Blocks 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7.

Turkey, as one of the guarantor powers on the island of Cyprus, along with Greece and the U.K. has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration's unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean while asserting that Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the resources in the area.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when a Greek Cypriot coup followed decades of violence against the island's Turks and Ankara's intervention as a guarantor power.

The island has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including the collapse of a 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of the guarantor countries.

Turkey has declared its continental shelf to the international community and registered it with the United Nations.

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