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Italy, Cyprus call Turkey-Libya maritime deal ‘unacceptable’

EPA-EFE/ETTORE FERRARI
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio (L) with Cyprus Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides (R) during their meeting at Farnesina Palace, Rome, Italy, 29 January 2020.

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Italy’s foreign minister Luigi Di Maio and his Cypriot counterpart Nikos Christodoulides said the maritime border deal between Turkey and Libya’s UN-backed government is “unacceptable”.
The pact gives Turkey access to an economic zone across the Mediterranean, which further raised tensions with Greece, Cyprus and Egypt. Turkey claims the UN convention on the law of the sea allows a country to stretch its territorial waters by 12 miles out to sea, but that when it comes to an economic zone, the area can extend for an additional 200 miles. If the distance between the two countries is less than 424 miles, they need to determine the dividing line with a bilateral deal, such as the one with Libya.
Following talks in Rome, both officials issued a statement, saying that the deal violates international law and flouts the sovereign rights of other countries.
Turkey said the deal prevents any energy-related projects from moving forward without its consent. The EU has also prepared sanctions against the country over its exploratory gas drilling in the territorial waters of Cyprus, where the Greek Cypriots claim exclusive economic rights. Cyprus has said it will take Turkey to the International Court of Justice in the Hague.
Di Maio reiterated Italy’s solidarity with Cyprus, saying that Turkey’s drilling activities are “completely disregarding Cyprus’ sovereignty and sovereign rights”.

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