Turkish parliament approves controversial maritime border deal with Libya

Turkish parliament approves controversial maritime border deal with Libya
Turkey has angered its neighbours by passing a contentious agreement with Libya's UN-backed government to give it access to an economic zone across the Mediterranean sea.
2 min read
06 December, 2019
Erdogan agreed the deal with Libya's UN-recognised government led by Fayed al-Sarraj [Getty]
Turkey's parliament on Thursday endorsed a controversial deal on maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean reached between Turkey and Libya's UN-supported Government of National Accord (GNA).

Legislators approved the agreement which would give Turkey access to an economic zone across the Mediterranean, brushing aside objections by Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and the rival and competing power base in Libya, the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by warlord Khalifa Haftar.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed the agreement last week with Libya's Tripoli-based government, led by Fayez Sarraj, which controls parts of the country's west. The two also signed a security cooperation agreement.

Comment: It's time for the ICC to indict Haftar for war crimes

The deals sparked outrage in the Libyan parliament, which is based in the east and is aligned with Haftar's self-styled LNA.

Lawmakers there denounced the agreements as a "flagrant breach" of Libya's security and sovereignty, saying they grant the Turkish government the right to use Libyan airspace and waters as well as build military bases on Libyan soil.

Greece, Cyprus and Egypt have also criticised the boundary agreement, calling it a serious breach of international law. 

The deal has added tension to an ongoing dispute with Greece, Cyprus and Egypt over oil-and-gas drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean.

Greece's prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, said he discussed the issue and other differences between Greece and Turkey with Erdogan on the sidelines of a NATO summit Wednesday in London, adding that both leaders "noted disagreements".

Greece's foreign minister on Monday threatened to expel the Libyan ambassador to Athens unless provided with details of deal.

Since 2015, Libya has been divided between two competing governments, one in the east, based in Benghazi, and the other in the west, in Tripoli. While the LNA and the eastern government enjoy the support of France, Russia and key Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE, the Tripoli-based government is backed by Italy, Turkey and Qatar.

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