In anticipation of the EU sanctions in Turkey that may be taken today in Brussels at the Foreign Affairs Council, Mustafa Akinci sent a letter to the UN and Nicos Anastasiades for the co-management of the island’s natural resources. A similar proposal was made in 2011 but was rejected by the Cypriot side.
Turkey’s exploration and drilling actions around the island of Cyprus do not concern the Cypriot EEZ as much, as they do the Greek EEZ and the Kastelorizo island complex.
Kastelorizo is an island located 2 km from the city of Antalya and has an area of about 9 square kilometers. With the Treaty of Lausanne it was granted to Italy and after 1947 with the Treaty of Paris to Greece by the Italians. The problem for Turkey is whether Kastellorizo is entitled to an EEZ and a continental shelf.
Greece, according to its plans for the EEZ, wants to make Crete’s Kasos Rodos Kastellorizos line the basis for the demarcation of its territorial waters. With a possible delimitation of Greece’s EEZ with Egypt on the basis of the principle of the middle line and delimitation with Cyprus, the continental shelf and the Turkish EEZ are automatically confined to only an open point in the Mediterranean in the Gulf of Antalya.
Naturally for Turkey, Kastelorizo is the focal point of the line that defines the Greek EEZ. Firstly, because from one side the line from Rhodes to Kastelorizo closes all the Turkish coastline on the open seas and secondly on the other hand the line between Kastelorizo and Egypt enables Greece to join its EEZ with that of Cyprus, thus limiting the maritime zones of Turkey.
Turkey argues that this situation is contrary to the principle of fairness, which is a priority in the cases of the delimitation of maritime borders. Kastelorizo is close to Turkey’s beaches and is an obstacle for Turkey to use its rights in the maritime zones. In similar disputes, according to the principle of geography superiority, priority is given to the rights of the mainland. The central issue is the influence of Kastelorizo, ie the percentage that the island is entitled to an EEZ.
There are many examples with different percentages of influence. For example, the island cluster of Strofades in the South Ionian Sea has a 32% influence, having Peloponnese to the east and follows the line of the Ionian Islands (Eftanissa). Another example is the Danish island of Bornholm, located between Sweden, Germany and Poland.
If the issue goes to the International Court of Justice, Turkey may legitimately block the recognition of an EEZ or a continental shelf in Kastelorizo, effectively blocking the union of the Greek and Egyptian EEZ, a consequently that of the Greek with the Cypriot one; an argument that can be used as a means of negotiating the demarcation of the Greek and Turkish EEZs.
It is no coincidence that with the NAVTEX it issues from time to time in the area, for exercises and seismic surveys, Turkey wants to show that it has rights in the area, creating new legal conditions. All these are systematic maneuvers, which, combined with the publication of maps mapping out its views on the design of the maritime borders, show that Turkey will not accept fait accompli in this region and will protect its rights decisively.
In addition, Turkey forwarded to the UN its objections to the law on hydrocarbons in Greece. Turkey argues that Greece’s unilateral effort, as is done in Kastelorizo, to define the external borders of the continental shelf is contrary to international law and to the rules in force.
Concerning the agreement on the demarcation of the EEZ between Egypt and Cyprus, Turkey rejects it on the grounds that the agreement violates the Turkish continental shelf on the 32nd 16′ 18′ meridian and, as such, in accordance with International Law, the agreement is void./ibna