Moment of Truth for UN - Marcoullis
It is the moment of truth for the United Nations to use preventive diplomacy towards Turkey, which is threatening to explore for undersea hydrocarbons without government permission and has beefed up its naval presence in Cyprus waters, said Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis at the United Nations Day event on “The United Nations and Preventive Diplomacy”.
The UN has succeeded in some areas but has been inadequate in others, particuarly in its failure to put in place a collective security system, she said. This failure has had major consequences on small states like Cyprus which would like to see the UN activing more solidly to defend international law when it is being violated, she said.
"Unfortunately, our experience throughout these past 37 years has been very disappointing as far as the implementation of the Security Council resolutions on Cyprus," said Dr. Marcoullis.
The island has no other defense for protecting and preserving its sovereignty and territorial integrity, she said. In the face of recent threats and military actions by Turkey "we continue to count on the United Nations, on the international community and on international law," said Marcoullis.
The UN has been successful in establishing rules on statehood and sovereignty; in keeping peace on the island and providing humanitarian help to overcome obstacles imposed by the Turkish occupation army, said Marcoullis. It has also sought to contribute to the resolution of the Cyprus problem in line with UN Security Council Resolutions, she said.
"It has contributed substantially to ensuring that the cease-fire line between the Government-controlled area and the Turkish occupation forces is an area without tension and where minor incidents do not escalate out of control," said the minister.
Confrontation over oil exploration rights
Turkey and Cyprus are locked in a tense military and political confrontation over undersea gas-and-oil exploration rights in the waters around the island. Since Noble Energy started drilling in Block 12 in Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) on September 19th, Turkey has sent its own seismic research ships accompanied by warships. It plans to explore for hydrocarbons in partnership with the Turkish-Cypriot political leadership.
Parallel to this confrontation, Turkey is also jockeying for position with Egypt and has proposed building a gas pipeline between the two countries.
Egypt has already signed a bilateral agreement to delimit the maritime borders with Cyprus and cooperate on developing hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation. Egypt recently re-confirmed its commitment to its agreement with Cyprus, saying it would 'undoubtedly' implement the deal, according to Egyptian foreign minister Mohamed Kamel Amr in comments reported by Athens news agency.
In earlier statements, Ankara said that Cyprus' maritime border agreements with its neighbors Lebanon, Egypt and Israel are null and void.
Infringement on sovereign rights
Turkey's seismic research activities in Cyprus waters fly in the face of the government's sovereign right over the island's EEZ as it does not have official permission to conduct research for oil and gas reserves. Ankara disputes this right on the basis that the government does not represent the Turkish Cypriots. Turkey has signed an agreement with the 'TRNC' to delimit maritime borders and explore for hydrocarbons. The 'TRNC' is only recognised by Turkey, and the government promptly responded by saying the agreement was illegal.
As the only internationally-recognised government on the island, the leadership has gone ahead with a contract with Noble Energy to explore for hydrocarbons in Block 12, an area which borders Israel's gas field Leviathan.
The government's right is upheld by the EU, Greece, Israel and Russia, all of which have made statements condemning Turkey's threats towards the island and supporting its right to exploit resources in its sovereign territory.
Defence ministry sources said that if Turkey proceeds with actual exploration for undersea hydrocarbons, the government's approach will be different. For the time being, authorities take the view that ships sent by Turkey are in international waters and will be treated like any other ship.
To post comments and become a full member of your news community, click here.