NEWS

Ankara defends right to conduct hydrocarbon drilling in eastern Aegean

One day after Athens submitted a diplomatic note to the United Nations, in which it notified international officials of Turkey’s granting of exploration permits for areas deemed to cover the Greek continental shelf, Ankara on Friday issued a statement defending its decision.

“The permits issued by Turkey from 2007 until now to [the state-owned oil company] TRAO concern [territories] within boundaries of the Turkish continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean,” a statement by the Foreign Ministry said, adding that Ankara has a sovereign right to carry out drilling in the area.

“Turkey will continue to make use of the rights stemming from international law,” it said.

On the instructions of Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, a note verbale was sent to the UN on Thursday to “safeguard Greece’s stance in defense of our country’s sovereign rights, in accordance with customary and conventional Law of the Sea, and specifically the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982).”

Ankara issued the exploration permits last summer. Athens responded by lodging the appropriate demarches to Turkey.

Diplomatic sources told Kathimerini they expected Turkey – which has not ratified the Law of the Sea – to also send a note verbale to the UN.

The development comes less than two weeks before a scheduled visit to Ankara by Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras during the Greek-Turkish High-Level Cooperation Council. Turkish officials said on Friday that the ongoing dispute over exploration rights should not affect the Ankara meeting in March.

Meanwhile, in a meeting with Avramopoulos at the UN in New York Friday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Greece to speed negotiations to resolve the Cyprus issue and the Macedonia name dispute.

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