In letters to Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, the President of the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK, has highlighted Turkey’s recent provocative and illegal actions within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Republic of Cyprus.

In his correspondence, Peter Droussiotis called upon the United Kingdom, as a guarantor power of the independence and territorial integrity of the island and as a key EU member state and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, to condemn unequivocally Turkey’s violations of the Republic’s sovereign rights to exploit hydrocarbon resources within the island’s EEZ.  

In similar letters addressed to Leader of the Labour Party and of the Official Opposition, Ed Miliband MP and the Shadow Foreign Secretary, Douglas Alexander MP, Mr Droussiotis calls upon them to make their party’s stance on this critical issue abundantly clear and to press the Prime Minister and the British Government to do the same.              

In his letters to the Foreign Secretary and the Shadow Foreign Secretary, Mr Droussiotis requests separate meetings between a high-level delegation of the Federation and Mr Hammond and Mr Alexander respectively.   

The full transcript of the letter addressed to the Prime Minister is reproduced below:

17th October 2014

Rt Hon David Cameron MP
Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
London
SW1A 2AA

Dear Prime Minister,

RE: TURKEY’S PROVOCATIVE AND ILLEGAL ACTIONS WITHIN THE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE OF THE REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS  

Last week, Turkey issued a Navigational Telex (NAVTEX), a notice to mariners advising that it was reserving areas south of Cyprus for seismic surveys from 20th October to 30th December of this year. The areas in question form part of the Republic of Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Turkey’s action is a direct violation of Cyprus’s sovereign rights within its EEZ.

Cyprus’s EEZ was proclaimed by the Republic of Cyprus in 2004 in accordance with international law and, in particular, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  Such Zone and the Republic’s sovereign rights over it have been recognized by the international community while the island’s EEZ has been the subject of delineation agreements with neighbouring countries including Israel, Egypt and the Lebanon.

Exploration undertaken by various international companies on behalf of the Republic of Cyprus thus far has indicated that there are considerable reserves of natural oil and gas within the island’s EEZ . These hydrocarbons belong to the only legitimate state on the island, the Republic of Cyprus, whose right and responsibility it is to manage these for the benefit of the Cypriot people as a whole. 

Turkey has previously engaged in ‘gunboat diplomacy’ by issuing regular verbal threats against the Republic in relation to its EEZ and by physically harassing vessels which are involved in lawful exploratory activities authorised by the Government of the Republic within the island’s southern waters.

Unfortunately, for the first time, Turkey has now chosen to escalate its provocative stance by stating that it will carry out seismic surveys in specific blocks located within Cyprus’s EEZ which have been legally assigned to international companies for the purposes of exploratory drilling.              

Turkey’s increasingly aggressive and dangerous policy and actions are wholly unjustifiable and now threaten not only the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus but also stability and security in an already sensitive and highly volatile region.

Furthermore, such actions are entirely at odds with international conventions and Turkey’s responsibilities as a guarantor power of the island’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. The timing of Turkey’s actions, in the midst of a process to reunify the island, serves only to undermine negotiations and raises serious questions about Turkey’s motives and its commitment to that process.  

As a Guarantor Power, EU state, permanent member of the UN Security Council and a country with considerable influence on a global scale, it is both imperative for, and incumbent upon, the United Kingdom to adopt an unequivocal stance and to make publicly clear to Turkey in strong terms the wrongdoing that its actions in the island’s EEZ represent, and to further make clear that Turkey’s incursions will not be tolerated. At a time when the UK is itself exercising rights from sovereign bases in Cyprus, for global security reasons that underline the volatility of the region, it is important that HMG acts with integrity to stop Turkey from threatening and violating the independence and sovereignty of an EU state and UK ally.

On behalf of the British Cypriot community, I ask you to please take immediate steps in order to make the UK’s stance on this critical issue abundantly clear. It is our opinion that, in the light of Turkey’s entirely unlawful, highly provocative and really dangerous actions, nothing short of absolute adherence to the rule of law and an unconditional condemnation of Turkey’s position will do in this case. 

Yours sincerely

Peter Droussiotis
President, National Federation of Cypriots in the UK