Dr. Kypros Chrysostomides Discusses the Possibilities of Delimitation of the EEZ With Turkey

Turkey has been invited by numerous decisions and resolutions to recognize Cyprus and lift its military occupation in the island

​The following is an open letter from Dr. Kypros Chrysostomides, managing partner of Chrysostomides & Co.​

In accordance with customary and conventional international law, there are in place extensive rules describing the ways, the procedures and the organs established by such rules for the settlement of disputes relating to rights of states on their adjacent seas and the seabed. The explicit rules are laid down mainly by the provisions of the International Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982 (the Montego Bay Convention). The question arises whether any such provisions may be applicable to the illegal actions of Turkey in the areas already claimed by Cyprus as its EEZ and what the chances are of successfully engaging the processes provided for by international law.

Under Part XV of the 1982 Convention, the parties in the dispute should proceed ‘expeditiously to an exchange of views regarding its settlement by negotiation or other peaceful means’. Despite the fact that (as published) Cyprus has invited Turkey to enter into exchanges in order to find a peaceful settlement, Turkey has not replied and obviously this method cannot proceed. Turkey claims that it does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus, despite the fact that the ROC is recognised by all members of the UNO (194 countries in all), and is also a member of the EU. Turkey has been invited by numerous decisions and resolutions to recognize Cyprus and lift its military occupation in the island.

Nevertheless, it refuses to do so despite its flagrant illegalities contrary to SC resolutions. At the same time, it claims that the secessionist regime in the north, established after the illegal military invasion and subsequent occupation of the northern part of the ROC, has separate rights which Turkey purports to ‘protect’ even though international courts have described it as ‘subordinate administration of the occupying power’. Contrary to the whole world, Turkey does not see the true international facts and persists that its position is the correct one. On this basis, it is obvious that no delimitation of the respective maritime rights can be achieved by conciliatory proceedings. The remainder of the international community does not seem to mind and, in fact, it tolerates the continued illegalities of Turkey; nor do the members of the SC appear to be bothered by the threat or even use of force by Turkey contrary to Article 2 of the UN Charter.

There is also the possibility of applying for delimitation of both the continental shelf as well as the EEC between adjacent and/or opposite states to the International Court of Justice in the Hague. This process has been employed by a good number of states, the most recent one being between Nicaragua and Colombia, whereby the two countries agreed to the Court’s jurisdiction, despite the fact that Colombia was not a member of the 1982 Convention, and a binding judgment was pronounced. Many famous cases were also pronounced, including the North Sea Cases. In the case of Libya-Malta, it was clear that the EEZ included the Continental Shelf interest in the seabed Art.56(3) of the Convention. The possibility of delimitation between Greece and Turkey was frustrated because of Turkey refusing to submit to the jurisdiction of the ICJ. Turkey also generally did not recognise its compulsory jurisdiction, being one of the very few countries that did not. Here again, Turkey is clearly violating the international rules.

The same happens with all other possibilities of settling maritime disputes as same are set out in the Convention on the Law of the Sea. Turkey refuses to agree with submission to an arbitral tribunal or special arbitral tribunal as provided for by Annexes VII and VIII of the Convention. Turkey refuses to either sign and ratify the Convention or even submit ad hoc to the jurisdiction of its organs, be it international courts or arbitral tribunals. It simply uses military force to impose its own illegal interests in the  Cyprus EEZ.

A question on the writer’s mind and of course the mind of a great number of citizens around the world is this: Is there any international tribunal that may deal with this monstrous anomaly and assume jurisdiction against Turkey as has happened in the Nicaragua v. Colombia case, and pass judgment?

Turkey is the only country in the world that does not comply with the rules binding almost the entire international community. It tries to enforce ‘its own international law’ by military means, using or threatening to use force contrary to the UN Charter and all recognized rules of customary international law.

Is the international community listening? Are the UNO and the EU and their organs listening? Do they understand what is actually happening? Are they allowing Turkey to dictate its own rules against each one and all the nations of the world together? Do they accept that Turkey rules the world? Do they tolerate the forcible imposition of their demands against small and weak countries? Is our world becoming a jungle?

Source: Chrysostomides & Co.