Greece Has Sent Letters over Turkey-Libya Memorandum to UN, Petsas Says

Government spokesman Stelios Petsas. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Stelios Misinas)

Government spokesperson Stelios Petsas on Tuesday announced that the Greek foreign ministry has sent letters to the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the presidency of the Security Council on Monday, in which it outlines Greece’s positions on the Turkish-Libyan memoranda and presents the legal arguments that support its case, based on the international Law of the Sea.

Petsas said that the letters were sent by Greece’s permanent representation at the UN, acting on the instructions of Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.

The letter to the Security Council presidency points out that the Turkey-Libya agreement was drawn up in bad faith and violates the Law of the Sea, since the maritime zones of Turkey and Libya are not adjacent and there is no common maritime border between the two countries. In addition, it points out, the agreement does not take into account the Greek islands and their right to have maritime zones (continental shelf and Exclusive Economic Zone). It says that the agreement is invalid since it has not been approved by the Libyan parliament, as attested to by a letter from the Libyan Parliament speaker to the UN Secretary General. For this reason, the letter notes, Greece rejects the entire agreement as invalid and not capable of affecting Greek sovereign rights.

It also points out that the signature of the “Agreement” disrupts peace and security in the region and asks that this be pointed out to the Security Council so that it might condemn the agreement as contrary to international legality and call on Turkey and Libya to abstain from any act that might violate Greece’s sovereign rights and escalate tension in the region.

The letter to Guterres presents the same arguments and requests that the agreement, being invalid, should not be registered at the UN and published in the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea. It also notes that the issue should be put to the Security Council, Petsas said.

Briefing reporters, the spokesperson said the government has launched diplomatic initiatives on a European and international level on this issue, which are already yielding results. Among others, he said, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias presented Greece’s arguments to his European counterparts in Brussels and asked for a clear condemnation of these memoranda, as well as a framework of sanctions if Turkey and the Tripoli government fail to comply, as well as support for Greece and Cyprus.

The foreign minister said that Greece will do “whatever is necessary” to defend its sovereign rights, while the issue will also be raised by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the European Council on Thursday and Friday, Petsas added.

The spokesperson also referred to the assurances of European support given by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during a European Parliament event organised by Greek MEPs, where she promised strong support, cricitised Turkey’s actions in the Aegean is unacceptable and said the EU would send a clear message to Turkey.

Petsas then referred to the government’s planned reforms, stressing that its ownership belonged to Greece and that parliament will have passed 32 bills and the new Constitution by the end of the year. He said that a “week of reforms” was coming relating to democracy, the economy and national defence.

He announced that a discussion and vote will be held on Tuesday on a bill with a number of urgent items of legislation from all ministries, from social issues to finance matters, rather than attaching unrelated amendments to other bills.

A vote will be held on Wednesday on the interior ministry bill that allows Greeks abroad to vote from their place of residence, while on Thursday there will be a vote on the finance ministry’s “Hercules” plan on non-performing loans and issues concerning SMEs.

On Friday, parliament is scheduled to vote on a defence ministry bill that aims to enhance the country’s defence capability and includes agreements for upgrades of its F-16 and Mirage 2000 military aircraft and the improvement and maintenance of Navy submarines.

Referring to the 2020 budget debate, he said this would be the first that does not impose additional austerity measures but decreases the tax burden on households and enterprises.

Announcing the prime minister’s schedule in the coming weeks, he said that Mitsotakis is to meet the UK Ambassador Kate Smith on Tuesday, followed by a meeting with Hans Joachin Schellnhuber, head of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and U.S. Ambassador in Athens Geoffrey Pyatt, to prepare his visit to Washington on January 7.

On Tuesday evening, Mitsotakis will attend a dinner in the honour of Serbia President Aleksandar Vucic at the presidential mansion, while on Wednesday he will participate in the Greece-Serbia High-level Cooperation Council, followed by a working lunch with the Serb President.

On Wednesday evening he is to attend an event on fostering and adoption organised by the labour and social affair ministry at the Zappion building and on Thursday and Friday, the prime minister will be in Brussels for the European Council.

The prime minister will be in Athens on Saturday for the start of the debate on the 2020 budget and in Frankfurt next Tuesday, for a European Central Bank event.