The Greek Foreign Ministry on Friday gave Libyan Ambassador Mohamed Younis A.B. Menfi 72 hours to leave the country amid escalating tensions over an accord between Turkey and Libya designating maritime borders between the two countries in violation of Greece’s sovereignty.
Speaking to reporters, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias reiterated that the accord was a “blatant violation of international law” while Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis dismissed it in Parliament as “a legally invalid document.”
“Not only is it geographically and historically invalid – wiping Greek islands off the map –- it has also led Turkey to unprecedented diplomatic isolation,” he told Greek lawmakers.
“The Turkish Parliament may have approved a piece of paper that they wrote by themselves and signed by themselves, but this paper is not recognized by anyone and it does not mean anything at all. [The deal] will collapse,” Mitsotakis added.
He also said he will raise the issue at this week’s European Council, expressing confidence that the EU “will stand firmly on the side of Greece, defending its just national sovereign rights.”
Greece’s move was denounced as “unacceptable” by Libya’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Siala, who told Reuters that Libya would have reciprocated if Greece had diplomatic representation in the country.
“It is Greece’s right to go to the International Court of Justice and to the legal channels to remove any confusion. But to take the stand of expelling the ambassador, summoning him and escalating the situation, this is unacceptable to the Libyan government,” Siala said.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also condemned the expulsion, describing it as “outrageous.”
“Expelling an ambassador just because of the [agreement] that we signed is not mature behavior in diplomacy,” he told reporters.
Meanwhile, Libya’s Parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh, who is allied with the forces controlled by General Khalifa Haftar and opposed to the government in Tripoli that signed the deal with Turkey, is expected in Greece this Thursday at the invitation of Athens.
Saleh has vociferously opposed the deal, saying it was a threat to the future and security of the Libyan state.