Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati will head to Cyprus in the coming hours at the head of a ministerial delegation to request new negotiations on an agreement that had delineated the maritime border with the neighboring island, media report said.
“Signed in 2007 under Fouad Saniora’s government, the treaty contained flaws and cost Lebanon between 1,600 to 2,643 square kilometers of its exclusive economic zone, according to experts,” al-Akhbar newspaper reported.
A panel formed by Mikati in 2022 had determined that the 2007 agreement with Cyprus was unfair for Lebanon and marred by flaws that resulted in the loss of an area of the exclusive economic zone.
The panel back then recommended that the Lebanese Army be asked to devise a new demarcation mechanism and that Decree 6433 be amended to include the new coordinates. It also called for a new framework agreement with Cyprus to manage the common rights, in addition to asking the island nation to re-negotiate based on the new coordinates and lodging the new coordinates with the U.N.
Al-Akhbar added that Mikati will inform the Cypriot side that what is needed now is to engage in dialogue in order to pave the way for “resuming negotiations after the election of president in Lebanon, seeing as negotiations over international treaties are part of the president’s powers.”
Lebanon and Cyprus had agreed in October to move ahead with the sea border talks. a day after Lebanon inked a maritime boundary deal with Israel that opens up lucrative offshore gas fields.
"There's no problem between Lebanon and Cyprus that cannot be resolved easily," said Cypriot envoy Tasos Tzionis following a meeting with then-president Michel Aoun.
"We had very friendly and extremely constructive discussions" on demarcating maritime borders between the two Mediterranean countries, Tzionis said, expressing hope an agreement was within reach.
In 2007, Lebanon and Cyprus signed an agreement to delineate their respective exclusive economic zones, but it was never ratified by the Lebanese parliament due to the then-unresolved dispute with Israel.
Cyprus, which has aspirations of becoming a major energy player in the eastern Mediterranean, has a key exclusive economic zone, divided into 12 blocks and potentially rich in gas.
Lebanon must also complete talks with its northern neighbor Syria before the maritime border with Cyprus can be finally demarcated.
Syria, once politically powerful in Lebanon, has repeatedly refused border talks.
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