Battle for gas: An agreement between Turkey and Libya exacerbates tensions in the Mediterranean
Ankara and the government in Tripoli have reached a maritime border agreement, although both countries do not share such a border. Greece, Cyprus and Egypt say the agreement has no validity, but Erdogan emphasizes that it may send troops there. "They and Israel cannot operate without our permission"
Battle for gas: An agreement between Turkey and Libya exacerbates tensions in the MediterraneanPhoto: Reuters, Edit: Amit Simcha
Greece has expressed its opposition to the UN in drawing up a maritime border agreement signed by Turkey with the Tripoli government, Libya's capital, which it says violates international law. Understandings between Ankara and Tripoli have intensified tensions between Mediterranean countries, whose regional landfills are undergoing regional struggle.
The Greek government said on Tuesday that the agreement was "badly flavored" after it expelled Libya's ambassador from Athens last week. She claims the agreement encompasses Crete and bites into its continental shelf. "The agreement violates the Law of the Seas. Sea regions between Turkey and Libya are not meeting, and there is no maritime border between the two countries," Athens spokesman Stalios Petas said.
Erdogan during his speech at a meeting of the Islamic Cooperation Organization (Photo: AP)
Turkish President Erdogan during his speech at the Islamic Cooperation Organization Istanbul 9 December 2019 (Photo: AP)
Turkey has a long-standing dispute with Cyprus around its nearby reservoirs. Greece and Turkey are also in dispute over controlling the Aegean Sea resources, and Greece says the Tripoli government, recognized by the international community, defrauded it when it negotiated with Ankara, which ended last month in the agreement. The agreement between Turkey and Libya creates a sort of slanting corridor from the nearest points between Libya and Turkey, and may pave the way for oil and gas drilling.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday said the agreement is in line with international law. A Greek government spokesman said Athens had asked its EU partners to draft a framework to impose sanctions on Turkey and Libya if the agreement is not repealed. Turkey faces possible sanctions due to its drilling on the Cyprus coast, which has been split into Greek and Turkish since Turkey invaded the island in 1974 following a coup backed by Greece.More in Walla! NEWS More in Walla! NEWS
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Burnt tank of forces in the suit, June (Photo: Reuters)
Burnt tank of troops in suit, after battles in the city of Grian, Libya, June 27, 2019 (Photo: Reuters)
Peace talks on the island have been deadlocked since the UN-mediated talks collapsed in 2017, and every crisis between Turkey and Greece has also inevitably dealt with Cyprus. On Tuesday, Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders canceled their participation in a UN-hosted reception in Nicosia.
Another opponent of the agreement is Egypt, Libya's neighbor who has been in conflict with Turkey since the coup against President Muhammad Morsi in 2013. It defined the agreement as "illegal and does not bind or affect the interests and rights of third parties." Cairo supports forces in East Libya, led by General Khalif Hefter, who also rejected the naval agreement as illegitimate. In June, Hefter, who leads the National Libyan Army, severed ties with Turkey because of its support for the 2014 Siraj government. Erdogan reiterated today the possibility of Turkey deploying forces in Libya, if such a request is reached. He said it would not be a violation of Libya's international arms embargo.
Turkey's involvement in the civil war in Libya is intensifying, while Russia and the United States also maintain a presence in the country. "Greece, Cyprus, Greece, Egypt and Israel cannot operate without our permission," Erdogan said on Monday.