No party can dispute the legality of the Maritime Demarcation Agreement between Egypt and Cyprus as it is consistent with the International Law, and it has been deposited with UN International Agreement, according to Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid.
This came after Turkish Foreign Minister Mouloud Jawish Oglu said on Monday during an interview with the Greek newspaper Kathimerini that Turkey does not recognize the 2013 Maritime Demarcation Agreement to demarcate the maritime boarder between Egypt and Cyprus to benefit from natural resources in the Eastern Mediterranean.
In this regard, Egyptian Foreign Ministry replied that any attempt to harm Egypt’s sovereignty is rejected and will be addressed, and no party can dispute the legality of Maritime Demarcation Agreement between Egypt and Cyprus.
Jawish Oglu further explained during the interview that Turkey has set plans to look for oil and natural gas in the region, which would mean that Turkey violates the Maritime Demarcation Agreement between Egypt and Cyprus. However, he claims that the agreement does not have any validity.
He added that his country has submitted a request to reject the agreement, claiming that it violates the Turkish continental shelf, and no foreign country, party, company or ship can conduct illegal scientific research or excavate oil and natural gas in this region.
Signing maritime agreements with several countries has allowed Egypt to search and discover oil and gas wells in the Red and Mediterranean seas including the Zohr natrual gas field.
During the inauguration ceremony of the Zohr natural gas field on January 31, President Sisi talked about Egypt’s maritime borders and the importance of signing border agreements with other countries, including Cyprus and Saudi Arabia in April 2016, to search for oil and gas wells in the Red and Mediterranean seas.
“Maritime border delimitation has contributed in achieving Zohr field project,” said President al-Sisi.
The field that could put Egypt back on the map of net gas exporters was discovered by the Italian Energy giant Eni in August 2015 located in the Shorouk concession, approximately 190 km north of Port Said in an area of 100 square meters (39 sq mi) and at a depth of 1,450 meters (4,760 ft).
It contributes 40 percent of Egypt’s natural gas reserves. The Mediterranean’s largest field helped Eni achieve an all-time high production in December as the company announced in late December that it reached a production record of 1.92 million barrels of oil per day.
Apart from Zohr field, the East Mediterranean region is rich in natural gas, causing a dispute between Turkey, Greece and Cyprus as Turkey has refused to redraw the maritime borders of the region to accommodate the gas fields. In 2011, Turkey carried out naval maneuvers in the region to display its force.
In addition, a dispute is found between Israel and its Arab neighbors over the ownership of some gas fields in the region such as Tamar and Leviathan fields, which contain huge amounts of gas.
Egypt has also been involved in these maritime disputes as some Egyptian experts believe that part of some gas fields lie within the Egyptian maritime borders.
The dispute comes in addition to Egypt’s crisis with Turkey due to its intervene in Egyptian internal affairs after ousting President Mohammed Morsi in 2013.
To avoid such conflicts in the Mediterranean region, Egypt has sought to hold negotiations with Cyprus and Greece over maritime borders, and to promote Egyptian relations with Cyprus and Greece as Turkey and Israel attempt to take control of gas wells in the Mediterranean.
Consequently, one of the bilateral agreements was signed between Egypt and Cyprus is 2003 Delimitation of Maritime Borders Agreement followed by the 2006 framework agreement.
Also, in 2012 a cooperation agreement between the two countries was signed to explore the search for gas in the Mediterranean on the Egyptian-Cypriot borders as the region is rich in the natural gas.
Several meetings have been held between Egypt, Cyprus and Greece and the most recent one is the fifth Egyptian-Greek-Cypriot tripartite summit which took place in November 2017. During the summit, several topics were tackled, including coordination between the three countries, as well as enhancing the relations in the political, economic, trade, security and tourism fields.
However, the Turkish Foreign Minister Jawish Oglu declared that the outcome of the tripartite meeting is not recognized by Turkey.
The first tripartite summit between Egypt, Greece and Cyprus was held for the first time in Cairo in 2014, and then in Nicosia in April 2015. The third summit was in Athens and the fourth was in Cairo in 2016.