Türkiye and Libya rebuked Greek criticism of their agreements on the delimitation of hydrocarbon and maritime jurisdiction areas, urging Athens to cease its baseless accusations, hostile rhetoric and escalatory actions, and instead respect the sovereign decisions of the two countries in a letter jointly sent to the United Nations on Tuesday.
Türkiye and Libya’s permanent representatives to the U.N., Feridun Sinirlioğlu and Taher El-Sonni, argued in the joint letter that the memorandum of understanding signed on Oct. 3, 2022 between the Government of National Unity in Libya and the Republic of Türkiye on cooperation in the field of hydrocarbons is “a legal instrument based on the principle of sovereign equality” and it “envisages the development of bilateral cooperation, both on land and at sea in the Eastern Mediterranean. Therefore, it is in full observance of the principles of international law concerning friendly relations and cooperation among states.”
The letter noted that, contrary to Greece’s allegations, the Libyan Government of National Unity has the capacity to enter and terminate international accords, and that its laws authorize the government to negotiate agreements with other states.
Unlike Greece’s argument, the letter highlighted that there is no legal basis for claims that the hydrocarbons agreement signed by Libya and Türkiye contradicts the political process under U.N. supervision, as the road map that will lead to a political solution in Libya gives the government full authority in the election preparation process.
“Greece fails to mention or deliberately ignores, that many states, including EU member states, have concluded tens of other similar memoranda of understanding with the Government of National Unity of Libya in areas that require long-term commitments by the signatories, ranging from energy to infrastructure and economic activities,” the letter read.
The letter stated that the agreement signed on Nov. 27, 2019 between Türkiye and Libya on the delimitation of maritime jurisdiction areas was recorded in line with Article 102 of the U.N. Convention and that a fair solution based on international law was reached, rejecting Greece’s claims that the agreement violates its sovereign rights.
The 2019 agreement had demarcated the countries’ shared maritime borders to prevent any fait accompli by regional states, contradicting Greece’s own expansive and unprecedented maritime boundary claims, under which islands would have huge exclusive economic zones while Türkiye would be confined to the Gulf of Antalya. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu had dismissed any potential objections to the deal as “irrelevant,” saying, “Third countries do not have the right to interfere in an accord between two sovereign countries.”
“Greece’s objections to the said MOU on the ground that it allegedly violates Greek sovereign rights are unacceptable to Libya and Türkiye. So is the purported maritime boundary delimitation agreement signed between Egypt and Greece,” Sinirlioğlu and El-Sonni said Tuesday.
“We regard them (as) null and void; they are in no way opposable to us. In accordance with international law, Greece is not entitled to sovereign rights in the maritime areas delimited between Libya and Türkiye,” their letter underscored.
It asserted that with such claims, Greece disregards Türkiye and Libya’s sovereignty rights. “Greece continues to interpret the law of the sea and general international law selectively. It ignores the principle of equity in maritime boundary delimitation,” the letter said.
The letter also highlighted that Greece illegally poses as an archipelagic state, claiming that all islands, islets and rocks should be given full weight in maritime boundary delimitation regardless of their location, size or ability to sustain human habitation or economic life on their own.
The agreements signed between Türkiye and Libya on the delimitation of hydrocarbon and maritime jurisdictions violate neither international law nor Greece’s sovereign rights, stressed the letter, adding that Greece is attempting to discredit Libya and Türkiye’s efforts to promote dialogue in the Mediterranean at the U.N.
Türkiye and Libya urged Greece to stop its unfounded charges, hostile rhetoric and measures that aggravate tensions, and to respect the two neighboring nations’ sovereign decisions.
In recent years, Türkiye, already at odds with Greece over several issues, including competing claims to jurisdiction, energy exploration and maritime boundaries in the Aegean, has seen deteriorating relations with its fellow NATO member because of its increasing cooperation with Libya, wherein Ankara has been a significant supporter of the Tripoli government.
In October 2022, three years after the maritime border deal, Ankara and the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli inked a series of preliminary economic agreements that allow for oil and gas exploration in Libyan waters by mixed Turkish-Libyan companies. It was a move aimed at benefiting both countries and sparked criticism from the EU and Greece that the hydrocarbon deal could “potentially undermine regional stability.”
Earlier in November, Athens permitted Exxon Mobil to start a gas-prospecting project off its southwestern coast, prompting backlash from Ankara and Tripoli who decried Greece’s “irresponsible behavior” by striking a deal with international companies in the Libyan-Greek maritime borders.
“Greece is conducting exploration contracts in a disputed area in the south and southwest of the islands of Crete,” the Libyan Foreign Ministry said following the news, vowing to take legal and diplomatic measures to defend Libya’s rights and sovereignty in its maritime areas.
Source : DailySabah