Cyprus' right to explore EEZ inalienable, Greek envoy stresses

Cyprus has the inalienable right to explore its Exclusive Economic Zone to locate any oil or gas reserves, Greek Ambassador to Cyprus, Vassilis Papaioannou, underlined here on Wednesday.

    In his statements, following a meeting with Cyprus House Speaker Yiannakis Omirou, during which they discussed Greece's initiatives to address

    the economic crisis, as well as the latest developments in the region, Papaioannou reaffirmed Greek commitment to international law and its full engagement to defending Cyprus' sovereign rights.

    "I stressed Cyprus' inalienable right to proceed with the drilling currently underway within its EEZ", the Greek ambassador said, adding that Cyprus and Greece send the message that they do not wish to cause tension in the region, but they wish to maintain stability and security.

    Replying to a question, Papaioannou pointed out that Cyprus and Greece coordinate their moves on all levels. "We monitor the situation and developments", he said.

    Turkey, whose troops occupy Cyprus' northern part since they invaded in 1974, does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus. Following a decision by Nicosia to begin natural gas and oil exploration in its exclusive economic zone, Ankara has deployed warships in the Eastern Mediterranean and has signed an illegal agreement with the Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus to delineate what it calls continental shelf. Drilling has already begun by Houston-based "Noble Energy", off Cyprus' south-eastern coast.

    The government of Cyprus has protested to the UN and the EU Turkey's moves, saying it has a sovereign right to exploit its natural resources, pointing out that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots will benefit from any benefits that may come from oil drilling.

    Cyprus has signed an agreement to delineate the Exclusive Economic Zone with Egypt and Israel with a view to exploit any possible natural gas and oil reserves in its EEZ. A similar agreement has been signed with Lebanon but the Lebanese Parliament has not yet ratified it.

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