BEIRUT - The Lebanese presidency announced Friday evening that a "formula" had been found to modify the demarcation of the maritime border between Lebanon and Cyprus, hours after the visit of a Cypriot delegation to Beirut.
"President Aoun was informed by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Elias Bou Saab that the talks with the Cypriot delegation have led to a formula to modify the border" between the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of the two countries, tweeted the Lebanese Presidency.
According to the state-run National News Agency, the delegation and the Lebanese authorities "agreed on a formula to be implemented in accordance with the legal provisions and Decree 6433, as well as the adoption of point 23 in the South."
With this formula, Cyprus accepts that the point where the demarcation lines of the Cypriot, Lebanese and Israeli EEZ meet is point 23 and not point 1, which was previously included in a 2007 decree that was never ratified.
This development comes on the heels of Thursday's conclusion of a historic deal with Israel on the delineation of the Lebanese southern maritime border.
The tripartite point with Damascus
As for the demarcation line between the two countries in the north of the Lebanese EEZ, the formalization of the border line also depends on the negotiations that will have to be initiated with Syria, a junction point linking the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of Beirut, Damascus and Nicosia, the NNA added, citing Bou Saab.
It is in this perspective that caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati decided in the evening to create a committee to "prepare projects for the demarcation of the Lebanese EEZ, in the west and in the north, with Cyprus and Syria.
Representatives from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Energy, Defense and from the Lebanese Petroleum Authority will sit on this committee, which will be chaired by the Minister of Public Works and Transportation.
Lebanon and Cyprus had already initiated the process of offshore resource exploration separately and signed an agreement in 2007 delimiting their respective EEZ.
However, it was not ratified by the Lebanese parliament due to the maritime dispute between Lebanon and Israel. Cyprus has a large EEZ divided into 12 potentially gas-rich blocks and hopes to become a major energy player.
This breakthrough between Lebanon and Cyprus took place following two meetings of the Cypriot delegation, led by special envoy Tasos Tzionis— a first in Baabda and a second with caretaker Minister of Public Works Ali Hamieh.
Following the first meeting, President Aoun had said that Beirut and Nicosia "do not need a mediator because we are neighboring and friendly countries," according to a statement issued by the press office of the Baabda Palace.
Aoun was quoted by his office as saying "there is no need for a mediator between Lebanon and Cyprus because we are neighboring and friendly countries, and this is what makes our mission of removing emerging ambiguities easy."
"The point that would still stay disputed is the borders with Syria in the North ... We will not delimit this border with Cyprus until we reach an agreement between us and Syria."
Earlier this week, Syria postponed a scheduled visit from Lebanon tasked to discuss maritime borders with Syria because of "prior engagements from the Syrian side."
"After this meeting, my role is done," Bou Saab also said.
For his part, Cypriot Special Envoy Tzionis described the meeting as "very important" and said, "We had a very friendly and extremely constructive discussion about the delimitation agreement and related maritime issues," adding that "discussions will continue but we are very optimistic that after the technical work is done and we are going to continue today, we are going to settle our maritime issues, which are not difficult."
"The timing now is very good and we are very hopeful and this is what we need as two countries who have embarked [on] energy operations in the sea," he added.
BEIRUT - The Lebanese presidency announced Friday evening that a "formula" had been found to modify the demarcation of the maritime border between Lebanon and Cyprus, hours after the visit of a Cypriot delegation to Beirut."President Aoun was informed by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Elias Bou Saab that the talks with the Cypriot delegation have led to a formula to modify the border" between...