Backing Greece, EU Denounces Turkey-Libya Maritime Deal


FILE- Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. (Photo by Eurokinissi/ Dimitris Papamitsos)

BRUSSELS - All other 27 leaders of the European Union members gave support to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis' request to condemn Turkey's deal with Libya dividing the seas between them, encroaching on Greek islands including Rhodes and Crete.

That came during a meeting in Brussels Dec. 13 of the European Council, Greece's state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency (ANA-MPA) reported, with the New Democracy leader anxious for backing over Turkish provocations.

He reportedly told his peers that the Turkey-Libya deal violated international law although Turkey sent it to the United Nations seeking approval while not recognizing the Law of the Sea unless invoking it for support.

Turkey's Parliament has approved it but not in Libya, where the country is divided between a Western-backed government and an opposing side which has the Parliament there, creating further confusion.

The news agency, citing sources it didn't identify, said that the EU leaders agreed that Turkey's actions were contrary to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Greece has already requested, at the Foreign Affairs Council on December 9, the EU's explicit condemnation of the Libya-Turkey "agreement", which recognizes that this void agreement has no legal effect, as well as a framework for sanctions if Turkey and the government of Tripoli fail to comply and, of course, their support for Greece and Cyprus.

Mitsotakis had asked the EU – unable to do little more than issue press releases, to intervene although the bloc’s leaders earlier had imposed only soft sanctions against Turkey for drilling for oil and gas off Cyprus and are reluctant to get tougher.

“Europe is raising diplomatic walls against Turkey’s provocations,” he said, adding that Greece has “very strong allies” it can rely on even if they are essentially powerless.

Showing again he doesn’t care what the EU - or the United States, UN or NATO thinks - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ignored them and sent the deal to the UN for approval, which Greece sources said is of “no legal consequence” the paper said.

“Greece has anyway already submitted its views with its letters to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the UN Security Council, which elaborate Greece’s positions and present the legal arguments based on international law,” they added.

Turkey - Erdogan said drilling will begin off Crete, setting up a possible conflict with the Greek Navy - is trying to establish a military presence in Libya based on another deal it signed with the Western-backed Tripoli-based government, the report said.

But most foreign powers involved in Libya (Italy, Russia, France and the US) are opposed to the idea of a Turkish military force in the North African country which Erdogan said would be sent there as a “peace force.” Erdogan has informed Russian President Vladimir Putin of his intentions although Russia is said to be against Turkey having troops in Libya.

In Athens, the eastern-based head of Libya’s Parliament, who is aligned against the Tripoli-based Libyan government that signed the deal with Turkey, reiterated his rejection of the accord with that country split in two.

“We are here to stress that this specific agreement is rejected, it is invalid,” Aguila Saleh Issa told Greece’s Parliament. “Those that signed it do not have any legal authority to do so, since the government itself was rejected,” he said, referring to the administration’s failure to win confidence votes.

Issa, who met with his Greek counterpart Konstantinos Tasoulas and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, said the accord essentially preyed on the rights and interests of the Greek and Libyan people and he wants it annulled, the paper said.

The US Ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey Pyatt, told the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency (ANA-MPA) that the deal isn’t valid and that American analysts who studied the memorandum reject Turkey’s claims regarding maritime zones and, continental shelf delimitation, he reportedly said, adding that inhabited islands should be regarded the same way as the mainland is seen.