NEWS

Bid to isolate Turkey over deal

COSTIS P. PAPADIOCHOS, ARISTOTELIA PELONI, VASSILIS NEDOS

TAGS: Turkey, Diplomacy

In the face of increasing transgressions by Ankara in the broader region, Athens is planning a series of initiatives aimed at isolating Turkey on the international stage and seeking to annul a Turkish-Libyan maritime boundary accord that challenges Greek sovereignty.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is expected to reiterate Greek concerns about the agreement, and about Turkish violations in the Eastern Mediterranean, at a European Union leaders’ summit this week.

Greece’s aim is for the summit’s conclusions to include a reference to Turkish actions. The next step for Athens is to lodge an official complaint about the Turkey-Libya deal to the United Nations. (Ankara dispatched the memorandum of understanding to the UN on Saturday).

Turkey’s tactics have already been condemned by the United States, the EU, Russia, Israel and Egypt, and Athens is keen to build international support for its case.

Meanwhile the outlook for Greek-Turkish relations is unclear, as suggested by Mitsotakis’ talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of a NATO summit in London last week.

Mitsotakis told Erdogan that Turkey’s deal with Libya was a “crude violation of Greece’s rights” and that neither he, nor the EU, would accept it, Kathimerini understands.

The scope of Ankara’s intentions is likely to come into focus no later than January when a French-flagged research vessel is scheduled to start exploration between southwestern Crete and eastern Rhodes.

There are concerns in Athens about a possible intervention by Ankara dispatching a research vessel of its own east of Crete or south of Rhodes or Kastellorizo, a move that would directly dispute the sovereign rights of Greece and its continental shelf.

Athens has described the Turkey-Libya accord as illegal and “absurd” as it ignores the presence of Crete between the coastlines of the two countries.

The prospects for the accord are already shaky. Although it has been ratified by Turkey’s National Assembly, it has not been approved by Libya’s parliament, whose leader, Aguila Saleh Issa, is aligned with a rival military force led by strongman Khalifa Haftar.

Issa is due in Athens on Thursday and is expected to stress his opposition to the deal.

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