turks drilling again

Turkey–Libya–Egypt–Greece Maritime Dispute Fallout Continues
South Front, Aug 10 2020

Turkey’s announcement that it will resume searching for oil and gas in the eastern Mediterranean is “extremely worrying,” the EU said on Sunday. Turkey announced the decision after Greece and Egypt signed an agreement delineating their respective exclusive economic zones in the region, which include areas claimed by Turkey and Libya. The discovery of vast gas reserves in the region in recent years has sparked a prospecting scramble by Greece, Turkey and Egypt as well as Cyprus and Israel. The dispute has become much more heated with the ongoing conflict in Libya, particularly after one of the two rival authorities in Libya (the Government of National Accord) signed a maritime agreement with Turkey that included areas claimed by Greece and Egypt. In response, Egypt and Greece recently signed a maritime boundary agreement of their own last week purporting to define the respective countries’ exclusive economic zones. On Friday,Erdogan announced the resumption of oil and gas exploratory operations accusing Greece of failing to keep its promises. The EU has expressed its concern over the rapidly deteriorating situation. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell in a statement on Sunday called the development “extremely worrying.” He said:

Latest naval mobilisations in eastern Mediterranean will lead to a greater antagonism and distrust. Maritime boundaries must be defined through dialogue and negotiations, not through unilateral actions and mobilisation of naval forces. Disputes must be solved in accordance with international law. Thre EU is committed to help solving such disputes and disagreements in this area of vital security interest.

The deal between Greece and Egypt aimed to establish maritime boundaries between the two countries and appeared to be a direct response to a similar accord reached last November between Turkey and the UN-recognised government in Libya. The agreement considerably enlarged Turkey’s maritime territory and drew accusations from several countries, led by Greece, that Turkey was trying to assert its dominance in the region. In a related development, a spox for Egypt’s ​Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources said on Saturday that the new maritime border demarcation agreement with Greece would allow for more bids to be launched regarding oil and gas exploration in the Mediterranean. During a phone-in with Ahmed Moussa’s TV show “Ala Massoulity” (By My Responsibility), Abd’el-Aziz stated that had the borders not been demarcated, Egypt would not have been able to conduct oil exploration. He explained that the border demarcation process provides a legal basis for the government to conduct exploratory activities in the zone and offer exploration permits to international consortiums, as occurred following the demarcation of maritime borders with Cyprus which led to the discovery of the Zohr field. Egypt and Greece signed an agreement on Thursday to define an exclusive economic zone between them. While the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that the agreement to demarcate the maritime borders between Egypt and Greece covers a region that is part of the Turkish continental shelf, and that the agreement is a violation of Libyan maritime rights as well, the UAE and Bahrain on Friday welcomed the agreement to demarcate the maritime borders between Egypt and Greece, establishing an exclusive economic zone between them.

Erdogan defies Greece and Egypt as Turkey resumes Mediterranean drilling
Middle East Eye, Aug 7 2020

Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey had resumed energy exploration work in the eastern Mediterranean, despite a deal signed a day ago between Egypt and Greece granting them exclusive rights over the same area. Erdogan told reporters after participating in Friday prayers at the Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul:

We have started drilling work again. We don’t feel obliged to talk with those who do not have rights in maritime jurisdiction zones.

He added that Turkey’s Barbaros Khayr’ed-Din Pasha, a seismic survey vessel, had been sent to the region to carry out its duties. The ship moved into waters off Cyprus in late July and remains in that region. Earlier this month, Egypt said that part of a seismic survey planned by Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean potentially encroached on waters where Cairo claims exclusive rights. The deal between Greece and Egypt was first announced by Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry on Thursday during a joint press conference in Cairo with his Greek counterpart, Nikos Dendias. The two diplomats defended the deal, which designates an area of the eastern Mediterranean sea containing promising oil and gas reserves as their exclusive economic zone, as compatible with international law. But Turkey rejected the agreement as “null and void.” Turkey’s foreign affairs ministry said in a statement that there was no mutual sea border between Greece and Egypt, thus making a deal between the two worthless. The Turkish foreign ministry said later on Thursday:

It is without a doubt that Turkey will not allow any activity at the area in question and will resolutely continue to defend its legitimate rights and interests as well as those of the Turkish Cypriots in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Egypt and Greece have long been at odds with Turkey over territorial waters in the Mediterranean. Last year, Turkey penned a maritime delimitation agreement with Libya’s Government of National Accord, in a move that escalated disputes over potential offshore gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean. Egypt and Greece condemned the deal as ‮‮”‬‬illegal‮‮”‬‬ and a violation of international law. NATO members Turkey and Greece have overlapping claims for hydrocarbon resources in their shared waters, prompting German Chancellor Angela Merkel to hold talks with both country’s leaders to ease tensions.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.