In two letters sent to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, by its permanent representative to the UN Andreas Mavroyiannis, Cyprus has condemned Turkey’s unlawful claims which extend to maritime areas where it could not have any rights under international law and has protested the new illegal drilling operations to be undertaken by Turkey in the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Cyprus.
In particular, in a letter dated 24 April, 2020 and referring to letters by the Turkish permanent representative to the UN of February 27 and March 18, Mavroyiannis stresses that the Republic of Cyprus “rejects the newly attempted submission by Turkey of geographical coordinates concerning the outer limits of its alleged continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, as well as the presentation of a chart in document A/74/757, which clearly encroach upon the maritime zones of Cyprus, as well as of other coastal States in the region.”
“Turkey’s unlawful claims extend to maritime areas where it could not have any rights whatsoever under international law and purport to “delimit” maritime boundaries with continental States with which it has no opposite or adjacent coasts and whose maritime areas do not, and could not, osculate,” he notes.
He also refers to an MoU between Turkey and the government of national accord state of Libya on the delimitation of maritime jurisdiction areas in the Mediterranean recalling that “Cyprus condemns the attempted delimitation of maritime zones through this Memorandum, which not only does not comply with the rules of international law as regards the conclusion of treaties, but is also contrary to international law of the sea.”
The result, Mavroyiannis points out, “is an unlawful instrument that fabricates a non-existent maritime boundary between Turkey and Libya at the expense of the rights and interests of third States,” adding that according to article 34 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and customary international law “this arrangement produces no legal consequences for Cyprus or for any third State.”
He also recalls that 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, Mavroyiannis says, “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.”
In his letter dated 30 April 2020, Cyprus’ permanent representative to the UN protests “the new illegal drilling operations to be undertaken by Turkey in the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Cyprus, areas in which Cyprus inherently has exclusive ab initio and ipso jure sovereign rights.”
“Scheduled to commence only a few days after the completion of the last such operation by the Turkish drilling rig Yavuz, the new drilling will be the sixth in less than a year,” he says.
“The unlawful operations of Turkey in different parts of Cyprus’ maritime zones have been uninterrupted since their launch on 4 May 2019,” Mavroyiannis adds and includes a map which shows all the drillings undertaken by Turkey in the past 12 months within the maritime zones of Cyprus, “as well as Turkey’s outlandish claims therein.”
Turkey’s actions, he stresses among other things, “are a direct violation of Cyprus’ sovereign rights and jurisdiction under international law, both customary international law as well as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.”
Moreover, he adds, “the use by a Member State of its might, in order to usurp another Member State’s sovereignty and to thwart the exercise of its sovereign rights, is a direct violation of the Charter of the United Nations.”
At the same time, Mavroyiannis continues, “Turkey continues to militarize the maritime space all around Cyprus and to illegally conduct unlawful seismic surveys within Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone.”
He informs the UN Secretary General that “in addition to Turkish navy vessels and unmanned aerial vehicles escorting the Turkish drill ships, Turkish armed forces conduct military exercises in Cyprus’ maritime space on a daily basis.”
This, he says, is over and above the constant violations of Cyprus’ sovereign airspace and flight information region by Turkey, the increased violations by the Turkish forces of the military status quo on the ground and, of course, the ongoing military occupation of the northern part of Cyprus since Turkey’s invasion in 1974.
The Republic of Cyprus, Mavroyiannis points out, “has no doubts about its sovereignty throughout the territory of the island of Cyprus, its airspace and territorial sea and its sovereign rights over the entire exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of the island.”
He further underlines that “my government shall continue to exercise and defend these rights by all means at its disposal and calls upon all Member States and all United Nations organs bearing responsibility for upholding the Charter of the United Nations and maintaining international peace and security to fulfil their responsibility.”