Turkey-Libya deal on maritime borders provocative - U.S. State Dept.

The U.S. State Department said an agreement signed by Turkey and Libya's Tripoli government last week on maritime borders in the eastern Mediterranean was unhelpful and provocative, the Athens-Macedonian News Agency said.

The deal signed on Nov. 27 by Turkey and Libya’s government asserts the two countries share a maritime border, ignoring the territorial waters around Cyprus and a number of Greek islands, including Crete. Greece, Cyprus and Egypt, which seek to build a pipeline carrying gas to Europe across those waters, have all objected to the agreement.

“While the United States generally does not take a position on other states’ maritime boundary disputes, we call on all parties to refrain from all actions that risk heightening tensions in the eastern Mediterranean at this sensitive time,” the State Department told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency in response to a question.

“In particular, the announcement of a signed Turkish-GNA delimitation memorandum of understanding has raised tensions in the region and is unhelpful and provocative,” the State Department said, referring to Libya’s Government of National Accord.

Turkey is locked in disputes with both Greece and Cyprus over territorial waters in the Aegean and Mediterranean. Turkey has sent drilling ships to look for gas off Cyprus to press its claim to the waters there. The EU last month targeted Turkey with limited sanctions over its gas drilling in the region.