A Turkish diplomat on Monday shared a map of the country's continental shelf and the borders of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the Eastern Mediterranean following a maritime jurisdiction agreement with Libya.
With the chart, Cagatay Erciyes showed the outer boundaries of Turkey's continental shelf and EEZ, designated in a 2011 agreement between Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), the median line between Egypt and Turkey's mainlands and a recent memorandum with Libya.
On Nov. 27, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a closed meeting in Istanbul that lasted over two hours with Fayez al-Sarraj, chairman of the Presidential Council of Libya.
The agreement, titled Restriction of Marine Jurisdictions, could expand security and military cooperation between Libya and Turkey.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said on Sunday that the agreement was "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."
Stressing that Turkey has the longest continental coast line in the eastern Mediterranean, Aksoy said: "The islands which lie on the opposite side of the median line between two mainlands cannot 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."
He added that Ankara's actions were based on international law and an "equity-based approach," while regional countries that reject Turkey's legitimate arguments were taking unilateral steps.
Turkey, as a guarantor nation for the TRNC, is currently carrying out hydrocarbon exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean with its two drilling vessels, Fatih and Yavuz, along with two other seismic vessels that are also operating in the same region.
Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the TRNC also has rights to the resources in the area.
In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus’s annexation by Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the TRNC was founded.
The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the Cyprus dispute, all ending in failure. The latest one, held with the participation of the guarantor countries -- Turkey, Greece, and the U.K. -- came to an end without any progress in 2017 in Switzerland.
By Erdogan Cagatay Zontur