The US State Department has called the Turkey-Libya memorandum of understanding (MoU) relating to maritime zones “provocative and unhelpful.”
Answering a question posed by the Hellas Journal website, a State Department spokesman noted that the agreement cannot affect the rights or obligations of third states such as Greece.
Washington’s support on this matter is deemed as particularly significant at a time that Turkey is directly threatening Greece’s rights from the land border at Evros to Crete in the southern Aegean, according to diplomatic sources cited by the news site.
The spokesman reiterated recent statements by US Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Francis Fannon and US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt that Greece’s islands have an exclusive economic zone and a continental shelf.
In comments on Tuesday at a virtual roundtable discussion on the Eastern Mediterranean and the trilateral partnership between Greece, Cyprus and Israel, Fannon said the Turkey-Libya memorandum “cannot as a legal matter affect the rights or obligations of third states” such as Greece.
“International Law, the Convention of the Law of the Sea generally recognises that islands … generally have an EEZ and they have a continental shelf, just as any other land territory, Fannon said. At the same time, an MoU “does not abrogate the rights of states,” he added, "their legal status is recognized, there's not an equivalency here."
Fannon noted that the United States has been “very consistent in calling to stop all provocative actions that could undermine investment confidence in the East Mediterranean region” and affect political stability.
“We can't comment on future actions or what may or may not happen. We certainly just encourage that states stop provocative actions, and stop provocative behavior, and stop provocative statements, and really look at the opportunities that lie before them,” he said..