Mitsotakis: Difficulties in Greek-Turkish Relations Can Be Overcome by Goodwill

Cheryl Sanders
December 6, 2019

The Turkish parliament's foreign affairs committee on Thursday endorsed a controversial deal on maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean reached between Turkey and Libya's United Nations -supported government. Over the past week, Cyprus and Egypt also condemned the Libyan-Turkish accord which, they say, is against worldwide law.

Mr Mitsotakis will be meeting other leaders during the summit, including with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The two countries also signed a security cooperation agreement; or more specifically, a MoU.

The deal sparked outrage by the Libyan National Army, commanded by Khalifa Haftar, and added tension to an ongoing dispute with Greece, Cyprus and Egypt over oil-and-gas drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean.

Besides this, a map published by Turkey shows the Turkish and Libyan Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) meeting midway across the Mediterranean, over an area also claimed by Greece.

Turkey, which does not have diplomatic relations with Cyprus's internationally recognized government, says Nicosia either has no jurisdiction to offer licenses or that some zones encroach on the Turkish continental shelf. Lawmakers there denounced the deals as a "flagrant breach" of Libya's security and sovereignty, saying they grant Turkey the right to use Libyan airspace and waters as well as build military bases on Libyan soil. "Expelling an ambassador for signing an agreement with another independent country is actually showing the real face of Greece". The deal with Libya angered Greece, which sees the move as infringing its own sovereign rights.

European Union member Cyprus was divided in a Turkish invasion in 1974 after a brief Greek-inspired coup.

The situation was exacerbated last week when Turkey, also a member of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, reached an agreement with Libya to delimit maritime borders in the Mediterranean.

Turkish drilling and exploration ships are now operating off divided Cyprus under agreements with the northern Turkish Cypriot state, which is recognized only by Turkey.

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