Lebanon-Israel sea border deal a ‘good’ example for Cyprus: Türkiye


 ISTANBUL OCT 28, 2022

A ship of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) patrols alongside Lebanese navy vessels off Lebanon's southern town of Naqoura close to the border with Israel, Oct. 27, 2022. (AFP Photo)

A ship of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) patrols alongside Lebanese navy vessels off Lebanon’s southern town of Naqoura close to the border with Israel, Oct. 27, 2022. (AFP Photo)


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Türkiye on Thursday said it “welcomed” the sea border deal between Lebanon and Israel, stressing it set a “good example” for the region, particularly the island of Cyprus.

The agreement to demarcate the maritime border comes after months of indirect talks mediated by the United States and marks a major breakthrough in relations between the two nations, which have formally been at war since Israel’s creation in 1948.

The agreement was finalized on Thursday, with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid signing the deal in West Jerusalem, and Lebanese President Michel Aoun in the presidential palace in Beirut.

Expressing hope for it to “contribute to peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, already facing a number of challenges,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said the newly inked deal “envisages a joint development model and revenue sharing through third-party operator for certain hydrocarbon license areas within the two countries’ continental shelf.”

Lebanon and Israel both claim around 860 square kilometers (330 square miles) of the Mediterranean Sea that are home to offshore gas fields.

Lebanon hopes that demarcating maritime borders will pave the way for gas exploration to help lift it out of its crippling economic crisis, which has plunged three-quarters of its population into poverty. Israel hopes that the deal will reduce the risk of war with Lebanon’s Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah.

Under the agreement, the disputed waters would be divided along a line straddling the “Qana” natural gas field. Gas production would be based on the Lebanese side, but Israel would be compensated for gas extracted from its side of the line.

“This model, which reflects similar practices in the world, sets a good example for the region and in particular for the Turkish and Greek Cypriots,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Tensions have mounted in recent years over the natural resources and jurisdiction in the Mediterranean.

Türkiye, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, rejects maritime boundary claims made by Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration. It says these excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of both Türkiye and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

Ankara has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling, asserting that the TRNC also has rights to the resources in the area.

It has for years stressed it wants to see energy as an incentive for political resolution on the island of Cyprus and peace in the wider Mediterranean basin.

The island has been mired in a decadeslong dispute between the Turkish and Greek Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the U.N. to achieve a comprehensive settlement.

Ethnic attacks starting in the early 1960s forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety. In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at Greece’s annexation led to Türkiye’s military intervention as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence. As a result, the TRNC was founded in 1983.

The island has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including a failed 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Türkiye, Greece and the United Kingdom.

Citing a proposal to the Greek Cypriot administration made in July 2021, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said the TRNC “made a cooperation proposal to the Greek Cypriot side based on a joint development approach through determining equitable revenue sharing percentages, without prejudice to the existing rights of international oil companies; and offered to establish a joint committee for this purpose.”

Recalling that Türkiye also proposed to convene an inclusive Eastern Mediterranean Conference in 2020, the ministry affirmed Ankara’s continued support to “the off-shore hydrocarbon cooperation proposals put forward by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in 2011, 2012, 2019 and 2022.”

source https://www.dailysabah.com/business/energy/lebanon-israel-sea-border-deal-a-good-example-for-cyprus-turkiye

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