UK Cypriots protest Europe Minister’s reference to “disputed” EEZ 1

The President of the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK Christos Karaolis has sent an open letter to the UK Minister for Europe Sir Alan Duncan asking for clarification on his “politically and legally unacceptable” statement about the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

On Tuesday morning Sir Alan said in the Commons that “exploratory drilling should not proceed in any area where sovereignty is under dispute.” He was responding to a question on the Cypriot EEZ and the Turkish actions thereby Bambos Charalambous MP.

Karaolis reminds Sir Alan that in Mach he had stated that the UK Government recognizes the right of the Republic of Cyprus to exploit its natural resources in its EEZ, but also that the “we [the UK] want to see exploration go ahead”.

The letter also refers to a recent statement by the British High Commission in Nicosia that the UK “agrees” with the stern statement against Turkey by the EU’s Federica Mogherini.

“Therefore, whilst I welcome the subsequent clarification that Mike Freer MP sought, I’m afraid that the response to Bambos Charalambous MP and subsequent Foreign & Commonwealth Office statement, as it stands, is politically and legally unacceptable. The statement has left our community deeply disappointed and it prima facie appears to signal a shift in HMG policy. I hope that this is not the case,” states Mr Karaolis.

He then stresses that under international law the EEZ of the Republic of Cyprus “is not under any dispute or question” and that Turkey is attempting to drill in an area of the Republic Cyprus’ EEZ that has already been delineated with Egypt and has been accepted by the United Nations.

The Federation President asks Sir Alan for the following clarifications “Which areas of the Republic of Cyprus’ EEZ, as you alluded to, does Her Majesty’s Government recognize as “disputed” and by whom?
If contrary to the Republic of Cyprus’ internationally agreed on EEZ, Turkey chooses to dispute a part of the EEZ, should this prevent the Republic of Cyprus from exercising its sovereign right to explore and exploit its natural resources?

Karaolis also urges the UK Government to publicly and privately call on Turkey to remove its drilling vessels and warships from the Cypriot EEZ, as has already been done by the Labour Party, the SNP, Conservative MPs Sir Roger Gale, Theresa Villiers, Matthew Offord, Julian Knight and Labour MPs Bambos Charalambous and Catherine West.

“The Republic of Cyprus remains a steadfast ally of the United Kingdom, both in the Commonwealth and in the EU, especially over the last two years during the Brexit negotiations. Furthermore, successful implementation of Cyprus’ energy program is very much in the UK’s national interest, as it is critical to safeguarding and diversifying the future energy security of both the UK and Europe. In contrast, Turkey has been actively undermining the Western security system over recent years and has proven itself an unstable and unpredictable ally in NATO.

“Therefore, it is deeply disappointing and disturbing that our Government is not clearly standing up for the Republic of Cyprus, while at the same time HMG Ministers continually emphasize the UK’s adherence to the rules-based international order and that the UK will become the invisible chain connecting democracies worldwide, post-Brexit. We expect that this pledge will be upheld in the case of the Republic of Cyprus’ sovereign rights in its declared and undisputed EEZ.

“On behalf of our UK Cypriot community, we urge you to rapidly reconsider,” conclude the letter addressed to the British Minister for Europe.