In this file photo, Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez waves at the drilling ship 'Yavuz' which was scheduled to search for oil and gas off Cyprus at the port of Dilovasi, outside Istanbul, on June 20, 2019. The region near the divided island is believed have rich natural gas deposits, triggering a race between Turkey and the internationally recognised Cyprus, which also plans to ramp up its exploratory activities in the eastern Mediterranean. (BULENT KILIC / AFP)
NICOSIA - Cypriot Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides on Tuesday called on Turkey to negotiate on the delimitation of their marine boundaries or resort to the ruling of the International Court of Justice.
If Turkey trusts its legal positions it should respond to the request of the Republic of Cyprus and consent to a recourse to the International Court to resolve the issue of marine boundaries
Cypriot foreign minister
Christodoulides was responding to Turkey's denunciation of a joint declaration issued by five countries on Monday condemning Turkey's drilling for natural gas off the southwest shores of Cyprus.
"If Turkey trusts its legal positions it should respond to the request of the Republic of Cyprus and consent to a recourse to the International Court to resolve the issue of marine boundaries," Cyprus state radio quoted Christodoulides as saying on its website.
Christodoulides said Turkey is taking advantage of the fact that international attention is turned to the coronavirus pandemic and resorts to what he called "destabilizing activities."
Cyprus, Greece, France, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates issued the declaration, denouncing "the ongoing Turkish illegal activities in the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone and its territorial waters, as they represent a clear violation of international law as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea."
The Cyprus News Agency reported that the declaration was issued after a teleconference between the foreign ministers of the five countries, during which they discussed regional issues.
A statement by the Turkish foreign ministry strongly condemned the declaration and accused Cyprus of disregarding the rights of the Turkish Cypriots, who live in seclusion in the part of Cyprus placed under the control of Turkish troops in a 1974 military operation.
The statement said Turkey is drilling in areas within its continental shelf and that its activities are in line with international law.
A Turkish drillship is currently active off the Cypriot shores with the intention of carrying out natural gas drilling.
The European Union has termed Turkey's actions near the coasts of Cyprus as illegal and imposed sanctions, including targeted ones on Turkish individuals personally involved in drillings.
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