Dec 23,2019 – JORDAN TIMES – Orkun Ersoy
The article which was published in The Jordan Times on December 19, 2019 titled “Turkey flexes its muscles in Eastern Mediterranean” has compelled me to clear out some points.
The article lacks basic knowledge about the facts and terminology of the issue. In addition to this, it is full of material errors (i.e. as opposed to the author’s claim, the Turkish ambassador in Athens has not been expelled).
Part of the western borders of Turkey’s maritime jurisdiction areas in the Eastern Mediterranean is delimited by the agreement signed with Libya. The agreement is in accordance with the court decisions that create the international jurisprudence and international law, including the relevant articles of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Furthermore, prior to the signing of the said agreement with Libya, Turkey has repeatedly invited all parties, except the Greek Cypriot Administration, to dialogue for a consensus based on equity and remains ready for negotiations. However, instead of engaging in dialogue in response to Turkey’s international law and equity-based approach, the parties only preferred to take unilateral steps since 2003 and try to shift blame on Turkey.
The final maritime boundaries in that part of the Mediterranean can only be settled through agreements to be concluded between the coastal states based on international law and the equitability principle. As far as the island of Cyprus is concerned this would only be possible after the political settlement. Third parties should refrain from taking sides in overlapping maritime boundary claims and acting as a court to try to validate one side’s claim at the expense of international law.
All parties are in essence aware that islands cannot have a cut-off effect on the coastal projection of Turkey, the country with the longest continental coast line in Eastern Mediterranean. The islands which lie on the wrong side of the median line between two mainlands cannot automatically create maritime jurisdiction areas beyond their territorial waters and that the length and direction of the coasts should be taken into account in delineating maritime jurisdiction areas.
Kastellorizo, a small island immediately across the Turkish mainland is an example of the maximalist and uncompromising Greek and Greek Cypriot claim. According to this claim, it is supposed to generate a maritime jurisdiction area of 4,000 times larger than its own surface. This understanding caused Egypt to lose considerable jurisdiction areas.
Turkey stands ready today, as it has in the past, to give its full support to ensuring a just, equitable and peaceful resolution to all pending issues, including the equitable delimitation of maritime jurisdiction areas with all relevant coastal States that it recognises and with which it has diplomatic relations, in accordance with international law, in order to further contribute to the stability and prosperity of the whole Mediterranean basin.
Orkun Ersoy is counsellor, deputy head of mission, Embassy of the Republic of Turkey