Greece crafts response to Turkish moves

Officials brief envoys, US Congress delegation on Ankara’s hydrocarbons deal with Libya

Greece crafts response to Turkish moves

Greek officials are considering their response to the signing of a hydrocarbons exploration agreement between the Tripoli-based Libyan government and Turkey.

Athens considers the agreement could have implications on its sovereignty as it is based on the contested Turkish-Libyan memorandum, signed in 2019, which delimits the two non-neighboring countries’ maritime jurisdiction areas and ignoring the fact that Greece and Egypt stand in the way geographically.

While considering its response, the government is informing foreign diplomats and officials about Monday’s agreement and its implications. Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias met Tuesday with the ambassadors of China and the United Kingdom, while Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis briefed a visiting cross-party delegation of the United States House of Representatives, led by the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Adam Smith.

Mitsotakis said Greece “will not accept an infringement of its sovereignty or sovereign rights.” He spoke of “extreme and escalating aggressive rhetoric” from Turkey, which includes the questioning of Greek sovereignty on its islands, “which is unacceptable.”

The Congressional delegation also met with Dendias and Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos.

Furthermore, Greece received the full backing of the European Union on the legality of the agreement, prompting Turkey’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic to respond that “the Greek and EU remarks on Turkey’s agreement with Libya on hydrocarbons have no importance or value,” and chided the EU’s “support for Greece’s maximalist demands.”

Sources within the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted Tuesday that the signing of the exploration agreement was contested within Libya itself.

The Libyan Parliament, based in the eastern city of Benghazi and in direct opposition to the Tripoli-based “Government of National Accord” (GNA), has denounced it as illegal, as it did back in 2019 regarding the memorandum, and there appear to be dissenting voices within the GNA as well.

The oil minister is said to be skeptical and GNA Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush mentioned that Libya has “not ratified” the 2019 agreement, to the annoyance of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

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