UK extends sanctions for East Med drilling

UK extends sanctions for East Med drilling

The United Kingdom has announced the extension of sanctions on persons involved in illegal drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, namely in Cyprus, beyond December 31, when the transitional period for the UK’s formal exit from the European Union expires.

According to the UK Foreign Office, the Unauthorized Drilling Activities in the Eastern Mediterranean regime includes sanctions for “discouraging any activity of exploration, production or extraction of hydrocarbons that has not been authorized by Cyprus in its territorial sea or/and in its exclusive economic zone and on its continental shelf.”

It added that this includes activities which may jeopardize or hamper the reaching of a delimitation agreement “in cases where the exclusive economic zone or continental shelf has not been delimited in accordance with international law with a state having an opposite coast.”

Essentially, the Foreign Office’s interpretation broadens the scope of sanctions, with definitions that Greek diplomacy largely uses to describe Turkish activities in non-demarcated areas. The language used by the Foreign Office for this detail shows on the one hand the diligence of the British bureaucracy and on the other the UK’s intention to support the application of international law with regard to Cyprus, of which it has been one of its three guarantor powers since 1960.

​​​​​​Meanwhile, during a brief chat with Greek journalists yesterday, visiting US Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette expressed the need for courts and not military force to resolve disputes in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Brouillette noted that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is in favor of a peaceful solution to Greece’s disputes with Turkey, and stressed the importance of the timing of his trip, which also came in the wake of the Abraham Accords in August – a joint statement normalizing relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Greece, he said, can be a bridge to a network of countries cooperating in various fields from the Middle East and the Persian Gulf to Eastern Europe.

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