Greece Plans Italian, Egyptian Counter to Turkey’s Libya Seas Deal

File- Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis meets with Libyan Gen. Khalifa Haftar in Athens, Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS – Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said Greece won’t submit to the United Nations a map outlining sovereign waters after Turkey did, seeking de facto approval of a maritime deal with Libya, but will work with prospective energy partners instead.

“A delimitation cannot be accomplished unilaterally with a declaration, but only with agreements between states, which is why we are in negotiations with both the Italian and the Egyptian sides,” the Greek foreign minister told a journalists’ conference on energy security in the East Mediterranean, said Kathimerini.

He said a country can not make unilateral declarations although Greece has designated its Continental Shelf and sea boundaries, which are disputed by Turkey whose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to begin oil and gas drilling off Crete as his country is already doing in Cypriot waters.

Dendias responded to a question regarding what Greece intends to do to counter Turkey’s submission to the UN of the coordinates outlined in its maritime borders agreement with a Libyan government the UN recognizes while Greek is working with rivals there who control the Parliament.

Greece has stepped up plans for energy exploration in the Aegean and East Mediterranean and working with Egypt and Libya as well as Israel, moving to fend off challenges from Turkey over some waters.

Earlier in February, Greece’s complaint the deal Turkey made with Libya, dividing the seas between them and claiming waters off Greek islands, was dealt a blow when the United Nations’ Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea was set to post maps outlining the coordinates.

That will be done even though Turkey doesn’t recognize the UN’s Law of the Sea nor parts of Greece’s Continental Shelf while hiking provocations in the Aegean as well as the East Mediterranean where it is unlawfully drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot waters.

The posting of the map, said Kathimerini, means the UN will de facto give Turkey the recognition it has been seeking although Greece was joined by the European Union in claiming the deal violates international law.

Erdogan, emboldened by the EU having only a tepid response to drilling off Cyprus and fearing he will unleash millions more refugees and migrants on the bloc through Greek islands has become more aggressive.

Turkey said the posting of the maps by the UN will essentially make the memorandum official and will pave the way to begin exploratory drilling activities for natural resources off the island of Crete, which Turkey claims is its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) – which it doesn’t recognize for Cyprus.

The Greek islands of Kasos, Karpathos, Kastellorizo and Rhodes aren’t on the map put up by Turkey and Libya, invisible, which the UN will agree with by recognizing the maritime deal.