Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited Tripoli Tuesday as part of the effort by Athens to see the Turkish-Libya maritime border memorandum scrapped and a diplomatic rapprochement with a country of significant geographic and strategic interest for Greece.
In his meeting with Libya’s caretaker prime minister, Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, Mitsotakis said that Greece wants the “cancellation of illegal documents that were presented as so-called transnational agreements but have no legal force, as explicitly ruled by the European Council.”
For his part, Dbeibeh expressed readiness for talks with Greece on the demarcation of maritime zones and to set up joint committees for this, while indirectly but clearly separating the memorandum with Turkey, noting that his government’s main priority is the interests of Libya.
He also encouraged talks between Greece and Turkey, while expressing his joy at the reopening of the Greek Embassy in Tripoli.
Mitsotakis welcomed Dbeibeh’s willingness “to be able to discuss directly and bilaterally issues related to the delimitation of maritime zones – as we should do as neighboring countries and to continue a debate which was interrupted in 2010.”
This should be done, he added, with respect to international law, “which is the compass with which friendly states resolve such disputes.”
Mitsotakis also noted that the issue of maritime zones will affect not only Greek-Libyan relations, but also the North African country’s relations with the European Union.
He also dropped clear hints about the Turkish presence in Libya, stressing that Greece will stand by Tripoli in the runup to the elections, “away from foreign armies and interests.”
Mitsotakis referred to the multiple opportunities for economic cooperation between Greece and Libya and highlighted the importance of the defense bond between the two countries, recalling that “more than 280 Libyan officers have graduated in recent decades from the schools of the Hellenic Armed Forces.” He also noted that Libyan Coast Guard officials have been trained in Greece.
Meanwhile Tuesday, during a visit to Ankara discuss trade and refugees, European Council President Charles Michel urged Turkey to keep working to resolve disputes with Greece and Cyprus over gas rights in the Mediterranean.
The visit by Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen follows the EU’s statement at a summit last month that work could begin on deeper trade ties and more financial support to Turkey to deal with refugees.