NEWS

Erdogan further escalates tension

TAGS: Turkey, Energy

In defiance of Greece’s vehement objections and the “concerns” of the European Union over Turkey’s maritime border accord with Libya, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that the deal means that both countries can carry out joint energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Speaking on state broadcaster TRT Haber, he also said Turkey will buy another drillship for its activities in the East Med. Furthermore, he described Greece’s expulsion of the Libyan ambassador over the deal as an “international scandal,” warning that Athens will “pay the price for its actions internationally.”

His remarks came on the heels of those by Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who said Ankara’s goal is the “fair distribution of all resources in the Aegean, the Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus.” Akar stressed that no decision can survive that does not include Turkey and “everyone should be aware of it.”

Meanwhile, European Union foreign ministers on Monday expressed their solidarity and support to Greece and Cyprus and their “concern” over the memorandum of understanding between Turkey and Libya.

“It is clear that this document is a cause for serious concern. We express our solidarity and our support to Greece and Cyprus,” said Josep Borrell, the EU’s new chief diplomat, after a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers in Brussels.

However, despite the concerns expressed, when asked if the accord was illegal, Borrell said that he “never said the agreement is illegal,” noting that EU authorities are still “examining it.”

He said that it was clear the memorandum of understanding is “problematic” for Athens and Nicosia as the sea zones divided by Turkey and Libya include Greek islands and Cyprus.

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias called for the explicit condemnation of the MoU and the creation of a framework for sanctions if Turkey and the Libyan government in Tripoli persist.

He said he explained in “the clearest way that Greece will do whatever it takes to defend its sovereignty and its sovereign rights” and that Athens received support from France, Italy, Cyprus and the Netherlands during the meeting.

At the same time, Athens sent two letters with its legal arguments against the MoU, one to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the other to the UN Security Council, raising the issues of regional peace and security.

Earlier on Monday, in a letter to Guterres, Aguila Saleh, Libya’s parliament speaker in the country’s rival power base in the eastern city of Tobruk, denounced the Tripoli government that signed the pact with Turkey as an “illegal entity.”

Saleh rejected the notion that the two states share common maritime boundaries, stressing that the state of Libya is not bound by the treaty. Saleh is expected to visit Athens on Thursday.

Online