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UNCLOS EEZ maritime space water

US Assistant Secretary of State for Energy, Francis Fannon called on Turkey to refrain from any provocative actions, during an online discussion on the East Med pipeline and trilateral partnership between Greece, Cyprus and Israel.

“Stop all provocative actions that could undermine investment confidence in the East Mediterranean region and affect political stability,” said Fannon.

The online discussion was organised by the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce.

Answering questions about the Turkish challenges lately, Fannon also stressed: “The Turkey-Libya Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to steal Greek maritime space “cannot as a legal matter affect the rights or obligations of third states” such as Greece.

“International Law, the Convention of the Law of the Sea generally recognises that islands… generally have an EEZ [Exclusive Economic Zone] and they have a continental shelf, just as any other land territory,” said Fannon, without seeing the irony that the U.S., along with Turkey, are two of only 15 countries in the whole world to not sign the Convention.

At the same time, an MoU “does not abrogate the rights of states,” he added, “their legal status is recognised, there’s not an equivalency here.”

Fannon noted that the United States has been “very consistent in calling to stop all provocative actions that could undermine investment confidence in the East Mediterranean region” and affect political stability.

“We can’t comment on future actions or what may or may not happen. We certainly just encourage that states stop provocative actions, and stop provocative behaviour, and stop provocative statements, and really look at the opportunities that lie before them,” he said.

At the same event, Greek Environment and Energy Minister Kostis Hatzidakis stressed that Greece is taking a decisive stance and expressed hope that a new spirit will prevail on the other side of the Aegean and that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will come to his senses.

“A few months ago, Mr. Erdoğan made a provocative statement that the three countries (Greece, Cyprus, Israel) have no right to sign the East Med pipeline agreement. We signed the agreement because we believe that this pipeline is not directed against any country but serves the interests of all three countries. It is a project of cooperation and peace,” stressed Hatzidakis.

He also referred to the events in Evros and the attempt to bring thousands of immigrants into the country with the encouragement of the Turkish government. “We have defended our borders,” he said.

“We are working to improve relations with our neighbours. At the same time, we are defending national integrity and pride, as well as the interests of our country,” the minister concluded.

The Minister of Energy of Cyprus, George Lakkotrypis, stated that Turkey’s behaviour is not new as it reminded Turkey that it is attempting to drill in the EEZ of Cyprus, violating international maritime law.

Meanwhile, Josep Borrell, the EU’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, called on Turkey to respect the sovereign rights of Greece and Cyprus, as reported by Greek City Times.

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