Greece Sends Letters to UN over Turkey-Libya Deal

Αssociated Press

Greek foreign Minister Nikos Dendias arrive for a meeting to brief political party representatives on developments for the maritime boundary deal between Turkey and Libya in Athens, on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS - Greece has sent two letters to the United Nations explaining its objections to a maritime boundary deal between Turkey and Libya and asking for the matter to be taken up by the U.N. Security Council, the government spokesman said Tuesday.

The country's foreign minister also convened a meeting in Athens to brief political party leaders on developments. The deal, endorsed by Turkey's parliament last week, has fueled regional tension, particularly over drilling rights for gas and oil exploration.

Parties taking part in Tuesday's National Council on Foreign Policy meeting "exhibited national consensus and concord", Nikos Dendias said following the session to brief parties on Greek-Turkish relations.

Dendias said he briefed parties on recent developments and added that collaboration by Greek parties on national issues is the strongest weapon in the country's diplomatic arsenal.

In comments addressed to Greek society, the minister said, "Greece has self-confidence. It's a European country within the EU's hard core and can deal with all issues."

The agreement would give Turkey and Libya access to an economic zone across the Mediterranean despite the objections of Greece, Egypt and Cyprus, which lie between the two geographically. All three countries have blasted the deal as being contrary to international law, and Greece expelled the Libyan ambassador last week over the issue.

Αssociated Press

Greek foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, facing third left, takes part in a meeting with political party representatives on developments for the maritime boundary deal between Turkey and Libya in Athens, on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Government spokesman Stelios Petsas said Greece sent one letter to the U.N. Secretary General and one to the head of the U.N. Security Council Monday night detailing Greece's position. He said the letters noted the agreement "was done in bad faith and violates the law of the sea, as the sea zones of Turkey and Libya are not neighboring, nor is there a joint maritime border between the two countries."

The letters also note the deal "does not take into account the Greek islands" and their right to a continental shelf and exclusive economic zone. The agreement has also not been ratified by Libya's parliament, Petsas said, rendering it "void and unable to affect Greek sovereign rights."

Neighbors Greece and Turkey, although NATO allies, have tense relations and are divided by a series of decades-old disputes, including territorial issues in the Aegean Sea, and have come to the brink of war three times since the 1970s, including once over drilling rights in the Aegean.

"Greece will do whatever is needed, and it knows what to do, in order to defend its sovereign rights," Petsas said. He added that the letter to U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres asked for the deal not to be published by the organization's division for ocean affairs and the law of the sea.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias raised the issue on Monday at a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Brussels, garnering clear statements of support from some of his European counterparts.

"I want to tell Greek society that the country is dealing with the very serious problems with seriousness and confidence," Dendias said after briefing party leaders on the issue.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said some of the bloc's members were concerned, but that the EU would study the deal further before deciding whether to take action.

"It's clear that it is problematic. It poses major concerns to certain member states, in particular Greece and Cyprus," Borrell said, adding that "we are going to be studying this question very closely, being clear that any agreement must respect international law."

Sources: ANA, AP