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February 17, 2020

British Stance on Drilling Rights Angers Cyprus


The Cyprus government responded angrily on Wednesday to a statement by a senior British  official who said on Tuesday that Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) was under dispute and that drilling should not be conducted in the area.

British High Commissioner Stephen Lillie has been called to the foreign ministry to clarify a statement made by Minister for Europe Sir Alan Duncan.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Duncan had said that Cyprus’ EEZ was “under dispute” and that drilling should not be conducted in the area.

He remarked, “I met with the Turkish ambassador yesterday [Monday], and had a very constructive talk with him. The position of the United Kingdom is that, according to the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas, exploratory drilling cannot be conducted in any area in which the sovereignty is disputed.”

Speaking after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Greek government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said Nicosia would make its demarches to London through the High Commissioner “on the unfortunate statements.”

Cyprus on Tuesday branded Duncan’s comment as unacceptable, as reports surfaced that the Turkish drillship located 60 km (37 miles) west of Paphos seemed to be preparing to start drilling in the island’s waters.

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades declared on Tuesday night that “Mr. Duncan has been and continues to remain unacceptable.”

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