Mediterranean Gas Fields Spark New Tension between Egypt, Turkey
Tension between Egypt and Turkey re-surfaced after the announcement made by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu of Ankara’s determination to start searching for energy sources in the region and its rejection to recognize an agreement for gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean signed in 2013 between Cairo and Nicosia.
In comments to the media, Cavusoglu considered the 2013 Egyptian-Cypriot agreement on utilization of natural sources in the East Mediterranean’s economic zone to be invalid.
In response, the Egyptian foreign ministry’s official spokesperson, Ahmed Abu Zeid, said in a statement that no party could dispute the legality of the agreement on the demarcation of the maritime borders between Egypt and Cyprus.
He added that the deal came in line with the rules of international law and has been recognized as an international convention in the United Nations.
Cairo and Ankara cut diplomatic ties in 2013 because of the stance of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who opposed the “June 30 revolution”, which overthrew former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi after widespread popular protests against his rule.
Major General Mamdouh Mokled, a member of the National Defense and Security Committee in the Egyptian parliament, said that the Turkish statements were “a continuation of the hostile situation against Egypt by the Turkish president.”
In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said: “We do not have to heed the Turkish statements, and we have to continue with gas exploration in the Mediterranean and avoid attempts to disrupt them.”
Research and exploration works in the last three years have uncovered huge gas fields, including Zohr field, which the Egyptian government says is the largest in the world, located within the borders of the country in the Mediterranean Sea.
Since the decline of diplomatic relations between the two countries, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has visited Turkey twice, most recently last December, to head his country’s delegation to the extraordinary summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on Jerusalem in Istanbul.