FOREIGN MINISTER Ioannis Kasoulides yesterday played down reports that Egypt was preparing to annul its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) agreement with Cyprus.
The minister commented after the Egyptian state-funded news agency MENA reported that the legislative committee of Egypt’s Shura Council drafted a law on Wednesday cancelling the current maritime borders of Egypt and Cyprus.
The Shura Council is the upper house of the Egyptian bicameral parliament, and according to reports, has limited legislative powers.
MENA reported the draft law was submitted to the Council’s legislative committee by MP Khaled Abdel Qader Ouda, who argued that renegotiation of the Cyprus-Egypt agreement delineating their respective EEZs and signed in 2003 “could mean billions of dollars for Egypt”.
Ouda was quoted saying the draft law “calls for the creation of new borders surrounding the economic zone in the presence of Turkey as a third party”.
Asked to comment, Kasoulides said: “The Egyptian government has never raised such an issue, nor has it questioned the agreement between two signatories of the Convention on the Law of the Sea, an agreement which has been submitted to the UN.”
He added: “Egypt is a friendly country to Cyprus and the issue arising from a news story by the Egyptian news agency refers to an internal discussion among Egyptian politicians in their upper house. The position of this specific MP is well known. I do not wish to intervene in Egypt’s internal discussions.”
Kasoulides highlighted that neither the Egyptian Foreign Minister raised doubts about their bilateral agreement during his visit to Cyprus last November, nor did Egyptian Ambassador to Nicosia Menha Bakhoum raise the issue during her meeting with the new Cypriot minister on Tuesday.
The Cyprus Foreign Ministry released a statement yesterday highlighting that the governments of both Cyprus and Egypt “fully respect and practically implement” the EEZ delimitation agreement signed in 2003. Egypt was the first country to sign an EEZ agreement with Cyprus.
“No problems have arisen between them in relation to the Delimitation Agreement,” said the ministry noting that Cyprus attaches strategic importance to its relations with neighbour and friend Egypt.
“Cooperation in the field of hydrocarbons’ development in the areas adjacent to the Median Line of the EEZs of the two countries, as well as cooperation in other related fields, ranks high in relations and dialogue between governments,” it added.