Egypt warned on Wednesday against any attempts to infringe or disparage its sovereign rights in the eastern Mediterranean’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), following statements by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu that a 2003 maritime border demarcation agreement between Egypt and Cyprus was invalid.
In an official statement, Egypt foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said that any attempts to breach Egypt’s rights were “unacceptable” and would be contested, slamming Cavusoglu’s statements.
On Tuesday, Turkish FM Cavusoglu told the Greek daily newspaper Kathimerini in an interview that his country considers the maritime border demarcation agreement agreement “null and void, according to international law.” “Turkey has submitted to the UN its objection to the Egyptian-Greek Cypriot agreement of 2003 regarding to the so-called ‘Delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone,'” the minister said.
“After thorough examination, we have clearly stated that the agreement violates Turkey’s continental shelf,” he added. Cavusoglu continued that “No foreign country, company, or vessel may conduct any unauthorized hydrocarbon or scientific research activity on Turkey’s continental shelf.” Responding to the Turkish foreign minister’s statements, Abu Zeid said that no party can contest the agreement’s validity, “as it is in line with the principles of international law and has been recognized as an international agreement by the UN.”
The statement by the Turkish FM comes nearly one week after Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi emphasized the importance of Egypt’s eastern Mediterranean border agreements in regards to oil and gas exploration. Relations between Turkey and Egypt have been strained since the 2013 ouster of Egypt’s Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, a close ally of Erdogan’s AKP government.
Erdogan has repeatedly slammed Morsi’s removal as a “coup.” Cairo has repeatedly accused Ankrara of “interference” in its domestic affairs and of supporting Islamist militants who carry out terrorist attacks in Egypt.