Egypt says Turkish seismic survey would violate ‘sovereign rights’

Anwar Gargash calls on Ankara to stop meddling in Arab affairs.

Sunday 02/08/2020
Turkish drilling vessel Yavuz in Izmit Bay, on its way to the Mediterranean Sea, off the port of Dilovasi, Turkey. (Reuters)
Turkish drilling vessel Yavuz in Izmit Bay, on its way to the Mediterranean Sea, off the port of Dilovasi, Turkey. (Reuters)

CAIRO - Egypt said on Saturday that a seismic survey planned by Turkey over oil and gas ressources in the eastern Mediterranean would violate its “sovereign rights”.

The announcement of the survey had escalated tensions between Turkey on one side and Greece and Cyprus on the other, amid aggressive claims by Ankara to offshore hydrocarbon resources. Turkey has since indicated it could pause exploration operations pending talks.

An advisory issued last month by Turkey for the survey overlaps with Egypt’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), constituting “a violation and an attack on Egypt’s sovereign rights”, the Egyptian foreign ministry said in a statement.

It did not give details, but said the potential encroachment came under point eight of Turkey’s advisory.

Seismic surveys are part of preparatory work for potential hydrocarbons exploration.

Turkish ambitions for oil and gas resources in the Mediterranean and its direct involvement  in the Libyan war have provoked strong push-back in the Arab world.

The United Arab Emirates minister of state for foreign affairs said on Saturday that Turkey should stop interfering in Arab affairs.

” The logic of the Sublime Porte and the Sublime State and its decrees have a place only in historical archives,” Anwar Gargash wrote on Twitter.

Gargash’s statements came after criticism by the Turkish minister of defence Hulusi Akar via Qatari media of the UAE’s stance in Libya describing such a stance as an expression of “hostility” towards Ankara. The senior UAE offcial replied: “The provocative statement of the Turkish minister of defence is another failure of his country’s diplomacy”.

“Relations are not managed by threats and there is no place for colonialist delusions in this day and age. It is only appropriate that Turkey stops interfering in Arab affairs,” added Gargash.

Abu Dhabi’s diplomacy has advocated for an end to foreign interference in Libya and called for a search for a political solution to the conflict.

Ankara has sent hundreds of military officers and thousands of mercenaries and militants to Libya as well as shipments of military equipment to back the Islamist-dominated Government of National Accord (GNA) in violation of UN embargo.

It has signed deals last November with the GNA facilitating Ankara’s military intervention in Libya and providing Turkey with favourable maritime border demarcation extending its ambitions in the Mediterranean.