Turkey, Libya sign maritime boundaries deal as East Med turmoil continues

Turkey and Libya’s internationally recognised Islamist-rooted Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) government in Tripoli have signed an agreement on maritime borders in the Mediterranean, Reuters reported on Thursday.

Turkish authorities said the countries on Wednesday signed two agreements on military cooperation and maritime jurisdictions after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a closed meeting with the representatives of GNA in Istanbul.

"Turkey, which announced the accord and a deal on expanded security and military cooperation on Thursday, gave no details of their memorandum of understanding and did not specify where Turkish and Libyan waters meet," Reuters said.

Tensions have already escalated in the Mediterranean especially between Turkey and Greece, as well as Israel, Greek Cypriots and Egypt, over the potentially rich hydrocarbon reserves in the region. 

Ankara says the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot enclave in the north of the island, which only it recognises, has a right to a share in the reserves, while the Cypriot government says any proceeds from gas drilling will be shared fairly after a peace deal is established. 

Libya's neighbour Egypt rejected the deal as "illegal", and Greece said any such accord would be illicit because it ignored the presence of the Greek island of Crete between the coasts of Turkey and Libya.

“The signing by Turkey and Libya of a memorandum of understanding cannot violate the sovereign rights of third countries,” Kathimerini quoted Greek ministry spokesman Alexandros Gennimatas said in a statement.

Ankara backs the GNA government, supplying drones, weapons and trucks to boost its efforts in the ongoing conflict against the Libyan National Army (LNA) in Libya, which has torn by violence and division since long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and killed in 2011.