Amb Pyatt’s comments to journalists on islands’ continental shelves

December 12, 2019

You have seen my public comments on this issue last week with CNN Greece, the remarks at the AmCham conference, and also the very strong statement that came out of the Department of State in Washington, DC. I think that gave a very clear message to the neighborhood in terms of our views on the unhelpful and escalatory nature of the MOUs between Turkey and Libya. What I would add and I was not in a position to say when I was asked last week — now that we have actually gotten the specific texts and done a legal analysis, the other important point that I would add is the U.S. legal judgement that the Turkish government in its assertions regarding maritime claims and specifically continental shelves differs with our legal analysis and also the UNCLOS legal analysis regarding the status of islands, that is that inhabited islands as a matter of customary international law are entitled to the same treatment as continental territory. So we would have a very different legal analysis from that that you’ve heard out of Ankara and that further informs our view that the right way to approach these kinds of issues is not through unilateral declarations that overlook the perspectives of the other affected states, in this case Egypt and Greece, but rather through dialogue.

And as I said at the AmCham conference last week, we remain of the view that we want the Eastern Mediterranean to be a zone of economic cooperation and opportunity and we want all of the issues, including energy, to be a driver of new cooperative frameworks.

That’s why we’re so supportive of the Greece-Israel-Cyprus 3+1, that’s why Secretary Pompeo went to Jerusalem in March to participate in that, that’s why Assistant Secretary Fannon came here to Athens in the summer to have our first energy ministerial, and that’s going to remain our driving approach.