Cyprus, Greece, Egypt express grave concern over escalation within maritime zones in East Med

Cyprus, Greece and Egypt condemned on Wednesday “Turkey’s illegal drillings and seismic operations” in marine areas which have already been demarcated in line with the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea.

“We strongly condemned Turkey’s illegal drilling and seismic operations in Cyprus’ EEZ/continental shelf, in marine areas already delimited in accordance with international law, including between the Republic of Cyprus and the Arab Republic of Egypt,” said leaders of the three countries in a joint declaration of the 8th Cyprus-Egypt-Greece Trilateral Summit here in Nicosia.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met here on Wednesday in the framework of the trilateral cooperation and coordination between the three countries and discussed a broad range of issues while reiterating the importance of enhancing their joint efforts in promoting peace, stability, security and prosperity in the East Mediterranean.

The leaders “also condemned the continuous violations of Greek national airspace and territorial waters in the Aegean Sea and Turkey’s illegal activities in areas falling within Greece’s continental shelf, in contravention of international law.”

“We stressed the importance for the respect of the sovereignty and the sovereign rights of each state in its maritime zones in accordance with international law, and as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS) and called on Turkey to permanently abstain from such actions in the future, thus helping create conditions conducive to dialogue which cannot be conducted in an aggressive environment or under the threat of use of force,” read the declaration.

The leaders also “call on Turkey to accept the invitation by Cyprus to engage in negotiations, in good faith and in full respect of international law, with the objective to reach an agreement for the maritime delimitation between their relevant coasts, or to submit the issue to the International Court of Justice.”

The three countries launched their tripartite cooperation in late 2014.

Last week, Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez announced that Turkish seismic research vessel Oruc Reis sailed to the Eastern Mediterranean to resume its activities.

Donmez said on his Twitter account that the vessel raised the anchor to “take the X-ray of the Mediterranean” following the completion of its maintenance works.