Cyprus will resort to the International Court of Justice in The Hague in a bid to protect its sovereign rights against Turkey’s illegal actions, President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades said on Thursday.
His comments came following the signature by Turkey of a memorandum of understanding with the Libyan Government of General Accord (GNA) for the delimitation of their exclusive economic zones, in a move considered by both Cyprus and Greece as violating the sovereign rights.
This action aims to protect “our sovereign rights and we have said that we will use every legitimate weapon, every international forum, every international organization with a view to protecting the Republic of Cyprus’ sovereign rights and resorting to the ICJ serves precisely this aim,” Anastasiades said speaking to the press before the 7th Energy Symposium, noting that of course difficulties may arise.
Replying to a question whether both parties will agree to this course of action, Anastasiades said that under this process one country notifies of its intention to resort to the Court, adding that Cyprus presented the notification to the Turkish Embassy in Athens which was not accepted.
He said Cyprus forwarded the notification to Turkey via other means and has proof that the notification has been received, noting that this proof provides the right to appeal to the Court.
Furthermore, addressing the Symposium, the President said Turkey could be a part of regional cooperation groupings, provided that Ankara respects international law and the UN Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Cyprus has signed delimitation agreements with Egypt, Israel and Lebanon, while following natural gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean, it has formed trilateral cooperation mechanisms with countries of the region, such as Israel, Greece and Egypt.
“This enlarged network of cooperation does not exclude neither turns against any other third country, on the contrary, it institutionalizes cooperation and dialogue and enhances the common aim for peace, security and stability especially in the volatile region of Eastern Mediterranean,” he said.
Therefore, he added, Turkey is not excluded, provided she observes the international law as prescribed in international conventions, either the UN Charter which demands respect of state’s sovereignty and not on the international law according to Turkey arbitrary interpretation.”
Noting that Turkey’s recent actions does not promote the aim of stability and peace, Anastasiades said the signing of the MoU with the Libyan GNA is “deplorable and legally questionable.”
He added that through this MoU Turkey tries to delimit marine zones between the two countries on the basis of the Turkish international law.”
This, he went on, is an outright illegitimate action which defies the legitimate rights of coastal states, again, in full breach of the law of the sea and the customary law for the rights of islands to EEZ and continental shelf.”
On his part, Demetris Syllouris, President of the House of Representatives said he would try to help, for the Cypriot political leadership to have a single policy and support a unified approach on energy issues.
Syllouris said that Cyprus, should take advantage of its upgraded geostrategic position due to its energy resources, work to further develop its co-operation with Greece, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon and play a pivotal role in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region, contributing significantly to the European Union`s energy security.
He also referred to Turkey`s efforts to undermine Cyprus`s strategic energy partnerships and to challenge the sovereignty of the Republic within its EEZ, saying that the Republic’s efforts should be intensified until Europe and the international community assume a more active role against the threats, provocative behaviors and activities of the neighbouring country.
In an address, delivered by a representative from the Greek Embassy in Cyprus, Minister for the Environment and Energy Kostis Hatzidakis said that if Turkey`s provocative behavior continued, an appropriate response would be given.
Hatzidakis spoke of a crucial international and regional momentum, undermined by Turkey`s provocative behavior and arbitrary pursuits, that have reached the point of discovering continental shelf even among countries that don’t have common borders.
“Such behaviours cannot and will not go unanswered. A decision has already been taken at European level to impose significant sanctions on Turkey. If Turkish behavior continues, an appropriate response will be given, “he said.
He added that the Greek and Cypriot drilling programme continues and must continue, adding that the two programs will begin to bear fruit for both countries and for Europe, thus accelerating the deepening of the trilateral strategic partnerships with Egypt and Israel.
Ambassador of Israel to Cyprus, Sammy Revel, pointed out that energy was a big opportunity for the relationship between Israel and Cyprus.
“Energy is bringing the ties between Israel and Cyprus closer than ever before. It’s been a major boost in developing an alliance between our two neighbouring countries”, he said.
The Ambassador also said that Israel was following with serious concern steps taken by Turkey and reiterates time and time again, its full support and solidarity with Cyprus in exercising its sovereignty and rights in its EEZ.
He added that Cyprus and Israel have signed a delimitation agreement in 2010 and were working very closely on energy issues. He also reminded that the bilateral cooperation has been extended to Greece and that there’s also involvement of the US.
Revel also said that the countries in the region should work together on climate change and protection of the environment and praised Cyprus’ regional initiative towards that direction.
“The prospects are very significant. The growing relations between Israel and Cyprus, the trilateral with Greece, the cooperation with other regional countries and also the cooperation with countries beyond the region, offer much potential for joined ventures and cooperation in the energy field but not only”, he said. He added that there were also opportunities for innovation, tourism, investments.