Turkey-Libya agreement bears consequences for Greece - analyst

The agreement signed on Thursday by Ankara and Libya’s internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) government to redefine Turkey’s maritime borders is part of a plan Ankara to gain superficial legitimacy in order to move in on the  Eastern Mediterranean, Angelos Syrigos, associate professor of international law and foreign policy at Athens’ Panteion University, wrote in Katherimini on Saturday. 

The deal, referred to as a memorandum of understanding, comes as no surprise, Syrigos said, as  Ankara asked for an agreement on the maritime borders between Libya and Turkey in exchange for its long-time support of the Islamist-rooted GNA.

The agreement, whose details are unknown, arrives amid soaring tensions in the region over hydrocarbon reserves in the waters off the divided island of Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean.

Ankara maintains that the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot enclave in the northern third of Cyprus, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus that is recognised only by Turkey, has a right to a share in the reserves. Turkey currently has four vessels, two drilling and two research ships, looking for natural gas in the region, which has prompted international reaction.

In Nov., the foreign ministers of the EU adopted a framework for sanctions on Turkey over its drilling off the coast of Cyprus.

The possibility of a Turkey-Libya sea border deal had moved Athens  in early Oct. to sign off on agreements conceding exploration rights to parcels south of Crete to a consortium of the Exxon-Mobil, Total and Energean companies, Kathimerini said.

The agreement signed on Thursday could create a wall preventing Greece from developing its sovereign rights in the eastern Mediterranean continental shelf, the article said, adding this would effectively confirm Ankara’s years-long narrative ‘’that the islands are not entitled to a continental shelf under law’’. 

Despite being illegal, the article said, the deal with the GNA can only be overturned if Libya backs out of the agreement or by recourse to international justice, the latter which Ankara would never accept. 

If the delineation has in fact been signed, Syrigos wrote, it would always stand in Greece’s path.