On April 24, 2020, the Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the UN Ambassador Andreas D. Mavrogiannis sent a letter to the UN Secretary General, Mr. António Guterres, in which he responded to the letters of the Permanent Representative of Turkey on March 18 and February 27. The letter was published on 6 May 2020 as an official document of the General Assembly and the Security Council of the International Organization.
Mr Mavrogiannis refers to his letters to the UN Secretary-General dated January 20 (A / 74/660-S / 2020/50) which, among other things, proves that the submission of geographical coordinates by Turkey has no legal basis and is in stark contrast to international law, customary and conventional and dated 5 December stating that the Cypriot Government condemns the signing of the “Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Turkey and the Government of National Unity of Libya” (attached).
In his letter, the Permanent Representative noted that the demarcation of the continental shelf and EEZ between Turkey and Libya violates the legal rights in the maritime zones of other coastal states in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey’s claims that the islands do not have the right to maritime zones such as those on the mainland are unfounded, as they are contrary to international law, including Article 121 (2) of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). With the same approach, Turkey is trying to delimitate the maritime zones with other adjacent or coastal states on the basis of the median line, as if any existing islands were completely “erased” from the map. Article 121 (2) of the Convention explicitly provides for the entitlement of islands to a territorial sea, contiguous zone, continental shelf and EEZ. This provision constitutes a rule of customary international law and, as such, is opposable also to States which are not parties to the Convention, like Turkey and Libya.
Mr. Mavrogiannis expresses his astonishment at the ease with which Turkey chooses to base its positions in a “cherry picking” manner, on the provisions of international law and specific articles of the Convention as rules of customary international law, manifesting once more the country’s cynical and self-contradictory attitude towards well-established principles of international law. I, thus, call upon the United Nations to condemn such treacherous attempts by Turkey to disregard international law and refashion geography.
The Permanent Representative emphasizes that Turkey’s charts both in annex I to the aforementioned Memorandum of Understanding which is referred to as constituting an integral part thereof, as well as in the annex to the letter dated 18 March, depict a divided island of Cyprus, with the names of the so-called “TRNC” and “GCASC” inscribed thereon, contrary to Security Council resolutions, including resolutions 541 (1983) and 550 (1984). The Security Council and international courts have definitively pronounced themselves on the illegality of the attempt to secede part of Cyprus and the unlawful character of the results of Turkey’s aggression against it. The Republic of Cyprus, the sole subject of international law on the island, has sovereignty over the whole island of Cyprus and all the rights stemming therefrom. The Government of the Republic is the only legitimate and recognized Government on the island and will continue to protect all the rights and legitimate interests of Cyprus under international law in its territory, sea and airspace, including its ipso facto and ab initio sovereign rights over its continental shelf.
Mr. Mavrogiannis also emphasizes that the ongoing illegal hydrocarbon exploration drilling and seismic surveys in the maritime zones of Cyprus violate the sovereignty and sovereign rights of Cyprus, both within a maritime area which it illegally claims, and within the rest of the maritime zones of Cyprus, acting “on behalf of” the illegal secessionist entity that Turkey itself has set up in the north of the island. This so-called “TRNC” is not valid according to international law and does not enjoy the rights of the coastal State in Cyprus, nor does it have any legal standing whatsoever to “authorize” or conduct any drilling activities with respect to the natural resources of Cyprus.
He also recalls that the Republic of Cyprus the Republic of Cyprus declared an EEZ in 2004 and has inherent rights over the continental shelf of the island of Cyprus, the outer limits of both zones being determined on the basis of the median line between the coasts of Cyprus and those of opposite States, pending relevant agreements to the contrary. In this regard, and in line with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Cyprus has signed EEZ delimitation agreements with Egypt, Lebanon and Israel on the basis of the median line method
In conclusion, Mr. Mavrogiannis notes that Turkey repeats time and again that its actions are in accordance with international law. He notes that Turkey not only refuses to negotiate with the Republic of Cyprus, but also continues to rejects the notion to conclude a special agreement (compromis) in order to address the maritime delimitation between the relevant coasts of Cyprus and Turkey, namely the common maritime boundary of the two States in the north and north-west of Cyprus, before the International Court of Justice./ibna