A new Turkish-Libyan agreement reignites tensions between Athens and Ankara

The lull never lasts long between Athens and Ankara. On Monday, October 3, it was the signing of a “Memorandum of Understanding” on hydrocarbon prospecting between the government of Tripoli and Turkey that reignited tensions. Details of the agreement are not known, but provide for them “Development of projects related to the exploration, production and transportation of oil and gas”said the spokesman for the government of Tripoli, Mohamed Hamouda.

According to the Greek press, it is doubtful whether exploration beyond the Libyan border can take place in sea areas claimed by other Mediterranean countries. The first energy agreement between Ankara and the Libyan government of national harmony (the UN-recognized GAN of Faïez Sarraj based in Tripoli) had already been concluded in November 2019. It drew new sea borders from south-west Turkey to north-east Libya through an area claimed by Greece and Cyprus that is crucial to plans for a future gas pipeline. In response, Athens and Cairo also signed their own agreement in August 2020 to delimit maritime borders in the region.

Also read: In Libya, oil production is returning to pre-blockade levels

“With this new agreement, Turkey wants to find a way to de facto reaffirm the 2019 Turkish-Libyan memorandum, which is not recognized by any other country.”says Panagiotis Tsakonas, researcher at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy.

deeply divided

For the head of Greek diplomacy, Nikos Dendias, the government of Tripoli is without ” Legitimacy” to seal such an agreement. Indeed, in a deeply divided Libya, it was immediately opposed by the rival government of Tripoli in the east of the country and backed by a section of parliament, whose President Aguila Salah proclaimed the protocol “illegal and unacceptable”.

Mr. Dendias warned against it “Greece will continue to inform its partners and allies about the destabilizing role [joué par] Turkey “. The European Union (EU) also condemned the deal, “because it is based on a Turkish-Libyan memorandum that violates the law of the sea and violates the rights of third countries”. “Measures that could undermine regional stability must be avoided”reacted Peter Stano, foreign policy spokesman for the European Commission.

also read Why Greece and Turkey meet in the Eastern Mediterranean

“Opposition to this cooperation agreement between two sovereign countries is contrary to both international law and the fundamental principles of the United Nations”In turn, the spokesman for the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tanju Bilgiç, replied. “EU, he specified is not an international legal body that can comment on or decide on agreements between sovereign third countries. »

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