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Politics

UN OK’s Greece-Egypt Seas Deal, Turkey-Libya Pact Still Adrift

December 24, 2020

After setting aside a deal Turkey made with Libya to divide the seas between them and claim waters off Greek islands, a counter deal that Greece made with Egypt was posted on the United Nation’s Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea.

It was done by the organization's Office of Legal Affairs and showed demarcation of an Exclusive Economic Zone in the East Mediterranean, letting Greece and Egypt share rights over natural resources in a rebuff to the Turkey-Libya pact.

Greek diplomatic sources not identified told Kathimerini that the speed at which the deal got de facto approval was significant, given that the President of the UN General Assembly is Turkey’s Volkan Bozkir.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had been pushing for the UN to publish maps of the accord with Libya but has gotten nowhere, the paper saying that Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias lobbied UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to back Greece’s agreement.

This is also the first deal to be published on the delimitation of maritime zones between Greece and a neighboring country in four decades. A similar agreement signed with Italy will be posted as soon as it enters into force, the paper said.

After Greece made its agreement with Libya, Erdogan canceled planned talks set for Ankara – not Athens – about rights to the seas in the Aegean and East Mediterranean and sent an energy research vessel and warship off the Greek island of Kastellorizo.

That set off a chain of events in which the ships, being shadowed by the Greek Navy, were withdrawn ahead of Dec. 10-11 European Union meeting where sanctions sought by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis were on the table.

But the EU pulled back, apparently not wanting to antagonize Erdogan in fear he would unleash on the bloc, through Greece and its islands, more refugees and migrants who had gone to Turkey fleeing war and strife and economic hardships in their homelands.

The Greece-Turkey standoff, in which the EU won’t bring up talk of sanctions until March, 2021, has created fears of a conflict that could engulf the region and bring in other countries as well.

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