Athens on Thursday strongly condemned a decision by Turkey and Libya to delineate maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean as “completely unacceptable,” with the Greek Foreign Ministry summoning Turkish Ambassador Burak Ozugergin.
The move came a day after it emerged that Ankara had submitted a series of claims in the region to the United Nations, notably its perceived right to have maritime zones and a continental shelf west of the 28th meridian (south of Rhodes), ignoring the Dodecanese chain of islands.
As such, although not unexpected, Thursday's development fueled concerns in Athens as Turkey ratchets up its claims and aggressive behavior in the region.
The memorandum of understanding on the “delimitation of maritime jurisdictions” was signed on Wednesday in Istanbul by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.
“This means protecting Turkey’s rights deriving from international law,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday.
Athens was quick to react. “The signing by Turkey and Libya of a memorandum of understanding cannot violate the sovereign rights of third countries,” ministry spokesman Alexandros Gennimatas said in a statement.
“Such an action would be a flagrant violation of the International Law of the Sea and would produce no legal effect,” he said, adding that such a move would also “not be consistent with the principle of good-neighborliness, which should govern relations between neighboring states.”
Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias described the agreement between Turkey and Libya as “completely unacceptable” and “beyond all reason.”
“Such an effort shows a complete lack of geographic knowledge, because it obviously ignores something that I think everyone can see – that between these two countries lies the large geographical land area of Crete,” Dendias said.
“Therefore, I think that any such effort verges on the ridiculous.”
Dendias also spoke to his counterparts in Cyprus and Egypt and briefed the European Union. The reaction in Cairo will be closely watched as Egypt will be partly affected by the Turkey-Libya deal.