ANKARA — The United Nations, in what Greece said was a technical move, registered an agreement between Turkey and Libya dividing the seas between them although it includes claims to waters around Greek islands.
“The registration and publication of all kinds of agreements submitted by states to the UN Secretariat is a formal and technical procedure which does neither confer legitimacy nor imply UN recognition,” diplomatic sources told Kathimerini.
They added that the agreement that no other country had recognized is still “illegal and void” without explaining why the UN would register it and if that could lead to legitimacy for the deal.
Turkey and the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) signed the maritime agreement, as well as a military cooperation deal, in November 2019.
“Our versatile relations based on 500 years of common history with Libya and our training, support and consultancy support to the UN-recognized Gov. of National Accord will continue,” Turkey’s Defense Ministry tweeted.
Under that agreement, Turkey moved an energy research vessel and warships off the Greek island of Kastellorizo before twice withdrawing them so that there could be discussions with Greek officials over boundaries in the East Mediterranean.
Turkey is planning to drill off Crete under the agreement, even though the United States Navy has a base there on Souda Bay and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, visiting Athens, backed Greece although the State Department supported Turkey's assertions the waters are “disputed.”
Turkey's push to hunt for oil and gas in or around Greek islands led to fears it would bring a conflict as the navies from the two countries were shadowing each other.
Greece countered with a similar agreement with Egypt that was denounced by Turkey, which also led President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to cancel a first round of talks in Ankara before withdrawing his ships to let diplomacy have a chance while insisting he'll drill anyway.