The Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the UN, Ambassador Andreas D. Mavrogiannis, sent a letter dated November 13, 2019, to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. António Guterres, informing him of the latest illegal drillings of Turkey in the continental shelf/EEZ of Cyprus, as well as its illegal military activities.
The letter was released yesterday (26.11.19) as an official document of the General Assembly and the UN Security Council.
In the letter, Mr Mavrogiannis complains that in early October, the Turkish State Oil Company (TPAO), sent the Yavuz drilling vessel in the EEZ/continental shelf of Cyprus, and began hydrocarbon exploration in Plot 7, which the Cyprus Government to European has licensed to oil and gas companies TOTAL and ENI. He notes that the drilling takes place about 44 nautical miles off the coast of Cyprus, within the EEZ/continental shelf of the Republic of Cyprus, which is already defined, in accordance with international law, between Egypt and Cyprus.
Mavrogiannis recalls that illegal Turkish drilling in the EEZ/continental shelf of Cyprus began in May 2019 from the Fatih drilling vessel, about 36 nautical miles from the west coast of Cyprus. The development of the aforementioned drillings, he notes, violates Articles 56 (1) (b) (i), 60 and 80 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and customary international law, which is equally binding to countries who are not members of UNCLOS, such as Turkey. Moreover, he notes, these drilling is a blatant violation of Cyprus’ exclusive sovereign rights to exploit its natural resources.
The Permanent Representative expresses concern not only about the Turkish hydrocarbon exploration campaign, accompanied by research vessels around Cyprus, but also about illegal Turkish military exercises. He also refers to the alarming increase in the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, both armed and unarmed, and emphasizes that these flights are in breach of international air traffic regulations, and pose serious safety concerns to the Nicosia FIR. In addition, he emphasizes that the militarization of Turkey in the maritime zones of Cyprus is not only a serious violation of existing international law, but also an abuse of freedom of navigation, the principle of peaceful use of the seas and endangers maritime safety and is a threat to international peace and security.
He also states in its letter that Turkey’s illegal actions in the Cypriot maritime zones not only contravene international law, but they are still an attempt by Turkey to challenge the Republic of Cyprus, a sovereign and independent UN member state, and hence its ability to conclude international agreements on the delimitation of its maritime zones. In this way, Mr Mavrogiannis points out, Turkey disputes the fundamental principles of international law, including the UN Charter and the rules and principles governing international legal order.
Turkey’s claim that its actions in the maritime areas of Cyprus are “in accordance with international law” is incorrect because it is one of the few states in the world to have not signed or ratified the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and is the only state to systematically vote against the General Assembly’s Resolution on the Law of the Sea. Turkey refuses to negotiate with the Republic of Cyprus on the delimitation of their maritime zones, in accordance with the rules of international law. In addition, it does not accept international jurisdictions, nor the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, ruling out recourse to international dispute resolution mechanisms.
Finally, the Permanent Representative notes that the Cypriot Government requests the UN Secretary-General to urge Turkey to comply with international law, to respect the sovereignty and jurisdiction of the Republic of Cyprus and to refrain from actions that pose a threat to international peace and security, and are counterproductive to efforts to reopen negotiations for the reunification of Cyprus./ibna