In an interview with the Daily Star (12/10), the ambassador of Cyprus in Lebanon, Homer Mavrommatis, said that the delimitation of maritime borders between Lebanon and Cyprus will facilitate future cooperation in oil and gas exploration and would help attract investments.
Background: In 2007, Lebanon signed an agreement with Cyprus using Point 1 as the southern limit of Lebanon’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The agreement was never ratified by the Parliament and as a result never entered into force. In 2010, Lebanon deposited a chart and lists of geographical coordinates of points defining the limits of its EEZ, indicating Point 23 – 17Km further south – as its southernmost limit. Meanwhile, Cyprus and Israel signed an agreement in 2010, using Point 1 as the northern limit of Israel. Lebanon considers that the Israeli-Cypriot agreement conflicts with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and should be amended. The disagreement also prevents the demarcation of the Lebanese-Cypriot maritime borders.
During the interview, the Ambassador said “All agreements with neighboring countries include an article which allows for the amendment of end points when they concern other countries. In the case of Lebanon and Cyprus, we have a number of points and two end points: one with Syria and one with Israel. With the understanding of all countries concerned, agreements can be amended.”
The disagreement over maritime border delimitation created a disputed area of 874Km2. The amount of hydrocarbon in this area is unclear and both Lebanon and Israel have been encouraged by international partners to proceed with exploration of resources elsewhere, in undisputed areas. Asked if he believed the development of these resources would be a source of friction or a source of cooperation with Israel and other bordering countries, Energy Minister Gebran Bassil preferred to use the term “forced stability” and added that no one has interests in creating disturbances, especially the Israelis.