WASHINGTON—Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ) Wednesday wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding Turkey’s disregard for international law and recent threats to Israel and Cyprus. Recent reports indicate that Turkish F-16 fighters have been deployed in the Turkish occupied northern Cyprus and Turkish warships have been harassing Israeli merchant vessels in the Cypriot waters.
“There is no question that should any type of violent conflict erupt in the east Mediterranean between Turkey and Cyprus or Israel that it will be result of Turkish aggression in violation of international law,” Pallone wrote in the letter.
The complete text of the letter appears below.
Dear Secretary Clinton:
I am writing to express my deep concerns regarding the Republic of Turkey’s recent aggressive posturing towards Israel and Cyprus. Israel and Cyprus have proven to be steadfast allies of the United States and have shown their dedication to respecting international law. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Turkey, which has expanded its policies of threatening peaceful acting neighbors with complete disregard for international law.
Recently, Cyprus and Israel signed an agreement for the delimitation of their Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) which has enabled them to cooperate in oil and gas exploration in a coordinated manner. Cyprus’s sovereign right to access its natural resources within its own territory is well recognized by the international community and, I believe, their cooperation with Israel in this regard deserves to be commended. Turkey, however, has met this news with renewed threats towards Cyprus and Israel.
Furthermore, the U.S. based Noble Energy Inc. has entered into an agreement with the government of Cyprus and has begun to carry out exploration in the east Mediterranean, within Cyprus’s offshore territory. While respecting and promoting the sovereign rights of an ally is important to U.S. interests, protection of a U.S. company must also be a priority of the Department of State.
Turkey’s threats have now escalated and have become actions that are directed at provoking conflict with peacefully acting nations. Turkey has sent an oil exploration ship escorted by a frigate and a submarine to the waters off Cyprus, hardly actions of a peaceful mission. Recent reports indicate that Turkish F-16 fighters have been deployed in the Turkish occupied northern Cyprus and Turkish warships have been harassing Israeli merchant vessels in Cypriot waters.
There is no question that should any type of violent conflict erupt in the east Mediterranean between Turkey and Cyprus or Israel that it will be result of Turkish aggression in violation of international law. Additionally, should the Turkish navy take action to interfere with a U.S. based company pursuing a legal agreement to explore for natural gas with a European Union nation it would certainly require a strong reaction from the United States.
In stark contrast to the actions of the Turkish government, President Demetris Christofias of Cyprus announced at the United Nations that Cyprus would share revenues generated by its natural gas development with Turkish occupied northern Cyprus. Additionally, the Israeli government has refused to engage Turkey in its heated rhetoric and has instead carried on with its legal and peaceful operations in the east Mediterranean in accordance with its agreement with Cyprus.
Israel and Cyprus are key allies of the United States and their importance to our strategic goals in the region cannot be overstated. U.S. foreign policy should reflect a dedication to assist in their protection and prosperity. I urge you to issue a statement calling on Turkey to cease its policies of intimidation and military threat toward our allies. I also ask that you call on the Turkish government to recall all of its naval ships and military aircraft that have been dispatched to interfere with the lawful exploration of natural resources in the east Mediterranean.
FRANK PALLONE, JR.
Member of Congress