The UK Minister for the European Neighbourhood Wendy Morton has restated the official British position on Turkey’s drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as on the issue of third country guarantees over Cyprus.
Responding to a letter by the Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale, the Foreign Office Minister notes that the UK “has been clear from the start, in both public and private, that we deplore Turkish drilling in the waters around Cyprus.”
According to Morton, the UK Government has made this view known to Turkey at ministerial and official level.
“The UK has consistently stated our support for the sovereign right of the Republic of Cyprus to exploit the oil and gas in its internationally agreed Exclusive Economic Zone. We continue to believe Cyprus’ oil and gas should be developed for the benefit for all Cypriots,” her response letter adds.
The Foreign Minister has also noted that the UK judges it as “critical for stability in the Mediterranean and for the integrity of the rules-based international system that disputes such as this are resolved, not through force, militarisation or coercion, but through dialogue and in accordance with international law.”
“Ultimately,” she carries on to say, “the most enduring way of resolving difficult issues is to achieve a Cyprus settlement and we encourage all parties to redouble their efforts in pursuit of that.
“As such, the UK is a strong supporter of a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of this issue, based on the internationally accepted model of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation.”
On the issue of guarantees and the future security of Cyprus, the Minister has restated that the UK is “open to whatever arrangements the two sides and the other Guarantor Powers can agree on in order to meet the security needs of a reunited Cyprus.”
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. Turkey has ignored numerous UN resolutions calling for the withdrawal of the Turkish troops and respect of the integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus.
Turkish drill ship “Yavuz” arrived last April in the exclusive economic zone (ΕΕΖ) of Cyprus, after Ankara announced another attempt to drill a well in blocks licensed to European companies. This is the 6th time Turkey attempts to drill within the EEZ and continental shelf of the Republic of Cyprus, this time in an area that covers part of exploration blocks 6 and 7, which have been licensed to ENI and TOTAL.
In a statement on May 15, EU Foreign Ministers deplored the fact that Turkey has not yet responded to EU calls to cease such activities and reiterated their call on Ankara to show restraint, refrain from such actions, and respect the sovereignty and sovereign rights of Cyprus, in accordance with international law. EU Foreign Ministers also reaffirmed previous Council and European Council conclusions, notably those of June 2019 and October 2019 on Turkey’s continued illegal activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.