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Turkey does have legal rights over South’s EEZ

4 November 2014

Turkey does have  jurisdiction over the area which has been claimed by [South] Cyprus as its own Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) political expert Professor Ata Atun of the Near East University in North Cyprus says, Turkish publication ‘World Bulletin’ reports.

Progressive maritime laws dating back from 1958 which govern continental shelves and economic zones on islands have been used both by the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots to assert their economic zone rights on the island of Cyprus.

According to the first maritime law in 1958 and the second maritime law in 1960, the east Mediterranean area is an exclusive economic zone of Egypt and Turkey and, therefore, the Greek Cypriot administration does not have rights for exploration in this region, Atun said.

The third maritime law in 1982, however, gives islands both continental shelves and exclusive economic zone rights. After the third maritime law, Greece declared its 12 mile continental shelf, and Turkey announced that the move would be “casus belli” (a cause of war), said Atun.

According to Turkish Foreign Ministry documents, the Aegean continental shelf constitutes a dispute between Turkey and Greece in the absence of a delimitation agreement between the two countries. The Continental Shelf dispute has a bearing on the overall equilibrium of rights and interests in the Aegean. The dispute concerns the areas of continental shelf to be attributed to Turkey and Greece beyond the six mile territorial sea in the Aegean.

Turkey is not a signatory to the third maritime law because of the Aegean islands. The rule of maritime law stipulates that all guarantors involved need to be party to apply the law, but in the case of the island of Cyprus as Turkey is not a signatory, the law cannot be implemented, Atun maintains.

Suleyman Bosca, chairman of the Ankara-based Energy Law Research Institute, said that the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral declaration of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), was made to possess the energy resources in the east Mediterranean.

Bosca added that the declaration of an EEZ has to be done fairly between concerned parties (countries) in accordance with international law. Therefore, the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral declaration of an EEZ in the east Mediterranean is an infringement of international law and maxims and consequently, a border clash in the east Mediterranean was inevitable.

“Turkey did not declare an EEZ in the east Mediterranean but it does not mean that Turkey has no rights on the east Mediterranean resources. Due to the politically divided structure of the Cyprus Island, apportionment of natural gas around the island causes disputes,” said Bosca.

According to Bosca, the Zurich and London agreements dating back from 1959, which defined the statutes of the island of Cyprus and assigned Greece, Turkey and the UK as guarantors of the island, along with the Cyprus agreement of 1960 cannot be ignored and the resources around the island have to be shared by both the Turkish and Greek sides of the island.

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