Greece, Egypt slam the gas deal between Turkey and Libya as "illegal"
Greece and Egypt held talks on Sunday, focusing on the controversial hydrocarbons exploration deal signed between Turkey and Libya’s interim Tripoli government over the disputed wates of the Eastern Mediterranean last week.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias slammed the agreement as “illegal” during a joint news conference with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shukry in Cairo, saying that it infringed on Greek waters, Associated Press (AP) reported.
Turkey and Libya’s Tripoli government led by Abdul Hamid Dbeibah has signed a series of preliminary economic agreements last week, that included potential energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, a move that immediately slammed by Greece and Egypt that both said they will oppose any activity in disputed areas.
The agreement followed a 2019 maritime demarcation accord that Turkey and Tripoli-based GNA government (Government of National Accord) signed to establish an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the region. The accord that created a sea corridor between the two countries, cuts through a zone claimed by Greece and Egypt, whom are also collaborating on gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Such agreements were a threat to regional stability, Dendias said.
“Turkey seeks to take advantage of the turbulent situation in Libya in order to further destabilize the Mediterranean region and establish regional hegemony,” he said.
“No one can ignore geography. No one can create a virtual world,” Dendias said.
Shukry on the other hand, said Dbeibah’s government has no authority to conclude such deals, given that its mandate expired following Libya’s failure to hold nationwide elections in December last year, AP said.
Egyptian foreign minister urged the United Nations to take “a clear position” on the legitimacy of Dbeibah’s government.
The international body “should not keep silent,” Shukry said.
Libya is embroiled in a chaos following a 2011 uprising that ended the 42-year rule of Muammar Gaddafi. Since the NATO-backed outbreak, the North African country has run by two rival administrations, one based in the capital Tripoli and the other in Tobruk.
Turkey supports the internationally recognized government in Tripoli, while countries such as Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, support the eastern forces led by General Khalifa Haftar.
Libya’s interim government, the Government of National Unity of Libya (GNU) that has replaced the GNA, was formed to run the war-torn country until the elections which was scheduled for December 2021.
The United States last week also criticized the deal between Turkey and Libya, saying that “Libya’s interim government is obligated under the provisions of the Libya Political Dialogue Forum roadmap not to consider new agreements that harm the stability of foreign relations of the Libyan State or impose long-term obligations on it.”
A US State Department spokesperson called on all parties “to refrain from actions that risk escalating tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean."
According to Dendias, the two ministers also discussed the developments in the Aegean Sea, over the tensions with Turkey.