A Turkish diplomat has revealed a map which delineates waters in the Mediterranean claimed by Turkey, amid an ongoing months-long standoff with Cyprus and Greece over Turkish oil and gas exploration and drilling inside Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
"After signing deals with its own puppet state in occupied northern Cyprus and with the pseudo-government in Libya's Tripoli, Turkey declares that it owns half of the eastern Mediterranean," Aron Lund, an analyst at The Century Foundation, observes of the newly published map.
New map outlining Turkey's claimed continental shelf and the borders of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), via Hurriyet Daily. Meanwhile the entire eastern side of Cyprus is claimed by the internationally disputed "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus."
And Turkey's Hurriyet Daily explains: "With the chart, Çağatay Erciyes showed the outer boundaries of Turkey's continental shelf and EEZ, designated in a 2011 agreement between Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), the median line between Egypt and Turkey's mainlands and a recent memorandum with Libya."
Over the past year Turkey has sent both oil and gas exploration ships, as well as military transport vessels, into Cypriot waters in the East Mediterranean related to expanded claims based on the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus (since 1974), earning the condemnation of both Nicosia and top EU officials, who have defended EU-Cyprus' interpretation of the conflict.
In nearby Libya, as Turkish military advisers continue to play a key role in support of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) against an offensive led by Gen. Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA), Turkey is also busy expanding maritime defensive operations off North Africa.
"On Nov. 27, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a closed meeting in Istanbul that lasted over two hours with Fayez al-Sarraj, chairman of the Presidential Council of Libya," Hurriyet Daily reports further.
In that meeting the two leaders reportedly struck a deal which is seen as key to expanding Turkey's maritime claims:
Stressing that Turkey has the longest continental coast line in the eastern Mediterranean, [Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman] Aksoy said: "The islands which lie on the opposite side of the median line between two mainlands cannot create maritime jurisdiction areas beyond their territorial waters and that the length and direction of the coasts should be taken into account in delineating maritime jurisdiction areas."
This follows boiling tensions since the early summer after Turkey laid claim to waters extending a whopping 200 miles from its coast, brazenly asserting ownership over a swathe of the Mediterranean that even cuts into Greece's exclusive economic zone.
After signing deals with its own puppet state in occupied northern Cyprus and with the pseudo-government in Libya's Tripoli, Turkey declares that it owns half of the eastern Mediterranean. https://t.co/Yvmpi7PA9t pic.twitter.com/N41ERkTTt3— Aron Lund (@aronlund) December 3, 2019
So far Ankara has responded to threats of EU sanctions by reaffirming its rights to waters of all parts of Cyprus' coast.
Should the Turkish military attempt to enforce its drilling claims and run up against Cypriot and Greek vessels, it could spark a deadly encounter which would force the EU and reluctant NATO to finally weigh in more forcefully.