Cyprus: Letter of protest delivered to U.N. about Turkey, while Turkish Foreign Minister admits efforts to improve ties with Greece

A letter of protest came into public spotlight on Tuesday by Cyprus Permanent Representative to the United Nations Kornelios Korneliou. Dated 19 February 2019, the U.N. Representative dispatched a letter to the Secretary-General, the General Assembly and the Security Council to inform about Turkey’s international law violations, recorded within Cyprus territorial waters and exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The letter informed the authorities of ‘yet another provocative and unlawful action against the Republic of Cyprus’ recorded on 26 January 2019. Turkey dispatched the survey vessel Barbaros and supporting vessels and warships to conduct seismic surveys in the southern continental shelf/EEZ of Cyprus. The U.N. Representative noted that Turkey had already issued an unauthorised navigational warning which lasts until 26 May 2019 to conduct surveys in the region. The vessel’s area of operations incorporates Block Nos. 1, 8, 9 and 12 which belong to Cyprus territorial waters and have been negotiated with global energy conglomerates for hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation ventures. The letter was concluded with a reminder that Turkey’s operations with Cyprus territorial waters violates the provisions of the U.N. Law of the Sea Convention. As of today, Turkey has not recognised the aforementioned convention.

Parallel to this development, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar reinstated on Tuesday that Ankara attempts to ameliorate relations with Greece through the adoption of confidence-building measures. This statement came within after the end of the military exercise known as Blue Homeland 2019. Blue Homeland represents Turkey’s largest naval drill in the modern age. The Defence Minister argued that Turkey projected to the world its naval capabilities across three parallel battlefronts, the Aegean, Black and Eastern Mediterranean Seas. The Turkish fleet participating in the exercise exceeded 100 vessels, entailing among others 13 frigates, 6 corvettes and 7 submarines.

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