DAVOS – After having excluded from a European Union meeting aimed at bringing a ceasefire in Libya, Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he wants a seat at the table if there’s another round.
Germany, where the talks were held, denied Mitsotakis was kept out by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after he signed a deal with Libya dividing the seas between them, claiming waters off Greek island, including Rhodes, and planning energy drilling off Crete.
Mitsotakis had vowed to use Greece’s veto power as an EU member to block any deal unless the bloc rejected the Turkey-Libya deal but he was ignored, bringing derision from the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA he ousted in July 7, 2019 snap elections.
The agreement between Turkey & Libya is legally and geographically preposterous. What has been signed completely disregards that our islands have a right to an exclusive economic zone, which goes against everything we know in International Law.
Conversation with @nfergus at @wef. pic.twitter.com/Liic9JyAyX
— Prime Minister GR (@PrimeministerGR) January 23, 2020
“I had a very honest discussion with Chancellor (Angela) Merkel,” he told Politico’s Playbook. “I think it was a mistake that Greece was not invited,” without saying whether he asked her to be included in the first round or if she agreed with bouncing him.
“I want to be very clear: Greece is the closest neighbor to Libya, it’s a pillar of stability … We’re not part of the problem, we’re part of the solution,” he added, noting that the issue is not limited to internal power struggles in Libya.
Mitsotakis blasted the Turkey-Libya maritime deal he said is in violation of international laws Turkey doesn’t recognize unless in its favor, as it has done this time in asking the United Nations for ratification.
Mitsotakis said that, “It is an agreement that we consider completely illegal,” without having any way of stopping it as the UN hasn’t gotten involved and the United States, which has a military cooperation deal with Greece at the same time President Donald Trump sides with Erdogan, is staying far away too.
Turkey said it would also send troops to help a UN-recognized government in Libya that is battling with an administration in another part of the country where the Parliament is located, supported by Greece.
Asked about Turkey drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot sovereign waters, Mitsotakis said that “It’s time for Europe to pay a little more attention to what’s happening in our corner of the world.”
The EU, fearing Erdogan will unleash millions more refugees and migrants on the bloc through Greek islands, issued only soft sanctions against Turkey, reluctant to provoke Erdogan any further.