Greece, Cyprus and Egypt outraged by Libyan-Turkish maritime border agreement amid oil-drilling row

Greece, Cyprus and Egypt outraged by Libyan-Turkish maritime border agreement amid oil-drilling row
Greece, Cyprus and Egypt have denounced an agreement between Turkey and Libya to delineate maritime boundaries between them, saying it disregards their rights in the Mediterranean.
2 min read
29 November, 2019
Greece and Cyprus say the Turkish-Libyan agreement disregards their rights in the Mediterranean [Getty]
Cyprus, Greece and Egypt have strongly criticised an agreement between Turkey and Libya's UN-backed government to delineate the maritime boundaries between the two countries, describing it as a serious breach of international law that disregards the lawful rights of other eastern Mediterranean countries.

Turkey and the Libyan government also signed an agreement on military and security cooperation on Wednesday.

The Cypriot Foreign Ministry said on Friday a Memorandum of Understanding the two countries signed has no legal validity and can’t undermine the rights of Cyprus or other coastal states.

It said Turkey's "distortion" of international law doesn't afford it any legal rights and demonstrates that Ankara is alone in its views.

Egypt also condemned the agreement.

"The two MoUs have no legal effect, they cannot be officially recognized in light of the Skhirat Agreement's Article 8, which stipulates that the Libyan government or the cabinet, not the prime minister, has the authority to sign international agreements," the Egyptian foreign ministry said, according to Xinhua.

The Turkey-Libya deal announced this week added tension to an ongoing dispute with Greece, Cyprus and Egypt over oil-and-gas drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean — with the European Union backing members Greece and Cyprus in the escalating spat.

Turkey does not recognise Cyprus as a state and is conducting exploratory gas drilling in waters where the ethnically divided island nation has exclusive economic rights.

In 1974 Turkey invaded Cyprus following ethnic conflict between Greek and Turkish Cypriots and an attempted coup d'etat by hard-line Greek Cypriot nationalists. The breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was formed afterwards but it is only recognised by Turkey.

Read more: Turkish Cypriots renew call for gas cooperation amid tensions

Ankara says it's defending its rights and those of Turkish Cypriots to regional energy reserves.

In Athens, a spokesman for the Greek Foreign Ministry said Turkey was not acting in a neighbourly manner.

"The signing by Turkey and Libya of a memorandum of understanding cannot violate the sovereign rights of third countries. Such an action would be a flagrant violation of the International Law of the Sea and would produce no legal effect," spokesman Alexandros Yennimatas said.

The Turkish ambassador to Athens was summoned to the ministry Thursday for consultations with the minister, while Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis discussed the issue Friday on a call with French President Emmanuel Macron, Greek officials said.

Mitsotakis is planning to raise the issue at a summit of NATO leaders in London next week.

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