Turkish-Libya agreement contravenes Law of the Sea, diplomats say


The memorandum of understanding on maritime borders signed between Turkey and the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord in Libya has no legal standing, diplomatic sources said on Thursday after studying a copy of the agreement obtained by the Greek Foreign Ministry.

“The content of the document contravenes the provisions of the international Law of the Sea,” the diplomatic sources said.

Earlier on Thursday, the Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs committee endorsed the controversial deal, which would give Turkey access to an economic zone across the Mediterranean, paving the way for a final vote in the parliament’s general assembly later in the day.

Briefing to the committee ahead of the vote, the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s deputy director for maritime affairs Cagatay Erciyes said that the agreement is based on the principle of “equal distribution” and argued that per this principle, islands have no automatic rights to a continental shelf and an exclusive economic zone.

The memorandum has a put a further strain on already tense relations between Athens and Ankara, following Turkish violations in the Aegean and Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone, as well as the upsurge of the past few months in migrant and refugees flows from Turkey to Greece.

These issues were the subject of an informal meeting between Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the NATO summit in London on Wednesday. The leaders spoke for over an hour-and-a-half, though were reportedly unable to come to an understanding.

“I want to reassure the Greek people that there are, have been and will continue to be difficulties in our relations with Turkey, but I believe that with good will from both sides, these can be ultimately overcome,” Mitsotakis said in comments after the meeting.

For the full Turkey-Libya memorandum, click here.