Turkey vows to prevent drilling activity on its continental shelf

Turkey might engage in joint drilling activities with Libya in the eastern Mediterranean and prevent any attempt to violate its continental shelf, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Wednesday.

The memorandum of understanding Turkey agreed on Nov. 27 with the U.N.-recognised government of Libya in Tripoli under Fayez al-Serraj fully complies with international law, Çavuşoğlu said during a live interview with the A Haber news channel, showing a map of Turkey’s new extended continental shelf. 

The Turkish-Libyan accord, which sees Turkey and Libya as maritime neighbours and draws boundaries passing close to the Greek islands of Crete, Karpathos and Rhodes, was approved by the Turkish parliament last week. 

“Within our continental shelf, no one can conduct activity without our permission, if it happens, we will prevent it,” state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Çavuşoğlu as saying. 

Greece, which says the agreement between Ankara and Tripoli violates international law of the sea, delivered a letter on Tuesday to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres demanding the Security Council to condemn the memorandum of understanding.

Turkey’s move to extend its continental shelf in the eastern Mediterranean has exacerbated tensions in the region over the exploitation of the potentially rich hydrocarbon reserves. 

Turkey, which has sent two drilling vessels near Cyprus this year and plans to dispatch a third, says Turkish Cypriots living in the northern third of the divided island, should receive their rightful share from the gas reserves. 

Turkey also claims territorial waters that overlap with the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) declared by Cyprus.