The State Department gave a report on “the interferences in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of Cyprus” from April 19, 2017 to January 17, 2020, to the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committees of the Parliament and the Senate. At the same time, they submitted a report regarding the Turkish violations of Greek airspace by Turkey, according to Greeknewsonline.
Both reports were submitted under the East Med Act, which was signed in December 2019.
The report on the trespasses in the EEZ of the Republic of Cyprus records 18 incidents that took place over a period of approximately 33 months. The information in this report is largely based on material produced by the Turkish government, including certain notifications issued by Turkey, known as navigation telex (NAVTEX).
The State Department notes that although not all of the examples cited interfere with the Republic of Cyprus’ efforts to explore and exploit natural resources, “all together, they reflect growing tensions in the region”.
Noting also that some of the Turkish activities took place in parts of the EEZ claimed by the Republic of Cyprus, for which Turkey also has maritime claims, the State Department emphasizes that “when the legal maritime claims of two or more countries overlap, it is up to those countries to resolve their maritime borders with an agreement under international law in order to reach a just solution”, it is stated.
Finally, it is stated that the US does not recognize the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” and therefore does not recognize any maritime claims it has made or any claims made by Turkey on its behalf.
The report emphasizes that the State Department continues to reiterate publicly and privately “that the United States recognizes the right of the Republic of Cyprus to develop resources in its EEZ and that only the Republic of Cyprus can have naval claims on behalf of Cyprus. Where the legal maritime claims of two or more countries overlap, we call on those countries to resolve their disputes peacefully in accordance with international law”.
It is mentioned that in cases where the United States had concerns about specific Turkish actions, it became involved privately with Turkey, while it also issued press releases from the Ministry. For example, on May 6, 2019, the ministry stated that it was “deeply concerned” by the announced intentions of Turkey to start offshore drilling in an area claimed by the Republic of Cyprus as an Exclusive Economic Zone. This step is intensely provocative and risks the increase of tensions in the region. We urge the Turkish authorities to stop these operations and we encourage all parties to act with restraint”.
It also cites a statement issued by the State Department on July 9, 2019, saying that “the United States remains deeply concerned about Turkey’s repeated attempts to drill off the coast of Cyprus and the most recent mission of the Yavuz drilling rig off the Carpasia Peninsula. This provocative step increases tensions in the region. We urge the Turkish authorities to stop these operations and encourage all parties to act with restraint and refrain from actions that increase tensions in the region”.
Finally, it is underlined that the State Department’s position is that the development of energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean should promote cooperation, increase dialogue between the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities and between regional neighbors and be the foundation for lasting energy security and economic prosperity. “The State Department is encouraging discussions between the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities on issues related to hydrocarbon development, including fair revenue sharing”, the State Department said in a statement.
Regarding the violations in the airspace of Greece submitted by the State Department to the Congress, as ERT correspondent in Washington Lena Argyri tweeted, “The US government is not able to provide a list of confirmed violations of its airspace. Greece from 17 January for the following reasons:
1) Greece claims airspace extending up to 10 nm and territorial waters up to 6nm. According to international law, a country’s airspace coincides with its territorial waters. The US thus recognizes airspace up to 6nm according to territorial waters. Greece and the United States do not share a common view on the extent of Greek airspace.
2) Although Greece is currently claiming territorial waters up to 6nm in the Aegean, Greece and its neighbors have not agreed to delimit boundaries in areas where their legal maritime rights overlap. The lack of such demarcation means that there is no clarity as to the extent of the territorial waters of Greece and the corresponding airspace in these areas, making it impossible to assess the total violations. The United States encourages Greece and Turkey to resolve outstanding bilateral maritime border issues peacefully and in accordance with international law./ibna