Energy deal between Turkey and Libya troubles the waters of the eastern Mediterranean

Turkey reacted angrily on Tuesday to criticism of the hydrocarbons deal it signed with Libya’s Tripoli-based government, which allows Turkish and Libyan companies to carry out joint explorations in the eastern Mediterranean.

The deal, details of which are yet to be disclosed, has rekindled conflicting claims over maritime borders and gas and energy rights in the eastern Mediterranean, with Turkey and Libya on one side and Greece and Egypt on the other. the other. This also adds to the long list of disputes between EU member Greece and EU candidate Turkey ahead of the inaugural summit of the European Political Community (EPC), which brings together the EU- 27 with 14 other European states, including Turkey.

Ankara ignored Greece’s demands – and backed by the European Union – that the agreement could destabilize the Eastern Mediterranean.

“As far as Turkey is concerned, the statements made by the spokespersons of Greece and the European Union on the agreement (…) have no meaning or value,” the spokesman said on Tuesday. of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Tanju Bilgic.

Bilgic said Monday’s memorandum of understanding between Turkey and the Tripoli-based government of Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, one of two rival administrations in Libya, envisaged scientific, technical, technological, legal, administrative and commercial “on land”. and at sea.

“Any objection to an agreement signed by two sovereign states is a violation of international law and the fundamental principles of the UN,” Bilgic said, accusing Greece of attempts to usurp the legitimate rights not only of Turkey but also of Libya.

He also criticized the EU for supporting “Greece’s maximalist demands” and added: “The EU is not an international judicial body that can comment or adjudicate on agreements between sovereign third countries.”

Turkey’s foreign, defense, trade and energy ministers, accompanied by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s foreign policy and information czars, arrived in Tripoli on Monday to sign agreements that would boost cooperation bilateral in the field of energy.

“We have signed a memorandum of understanding on the exploration of hydrocarbons in Libyan territorial waters and on Libyan soil, by joint Turkish-Libyan companies,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said during a meeting. press conference with his counterpart Najla al-Mangoush, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Libyan Government of National Unity (GNU).

Mangoush said the memorandum of understanding is in the best interest of both countries and will contribute to the global gas and energy crisis, especially given the impact of the Ukraine crisis on energy markets.

But the deal has fueled controversy within war-torn Libya, which has Africa’s largest crude oil reserves but has been in chaos since the 2011 overthrow of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi. battle for foreign powers, it is currently split between interim administration Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, Turkey’s man in Tripoli, and Fathi Bashagha, an ally of Turkey in 2019 and 2020 who approached the states States, France and Egypt later.

Libya’s east-based parliament, which named Bashagha as the new prime minister in February, rejected Monday’s dealsaying that the current government did not have the power to sign any agreement.

Local media in Libya reported that even before the arrival of the Turkish delegation, Libyan Oil Minister Mohamed Aoun had complained that Dbeibah had handed over his duties to Economy Minister Muhammad Al-Huwayj. The Libya Update reported that Aoun claimed the decision was “to make a suspicious oil deal with Turkey.”

The deal sparked diplomatic traffic in Greece as Athens pledged to “continue to inform its partners and allies about Turkey’s destabilizing role”. Citing its “sovereign rights” in the area it intends to defend “by all legal means”, the Greek Foreign Ministry said that Greece and Egypt had designated their own exclusive economic zones in 2020, which, according to them, canceled an agreement between Turkey and Libya. last year.

The 2019 Turkish-Liyan deal designated new borders from southwestern Turkey to northeastern Libya through an area currently claimed by Greece and Cyprus, crucial to plans for a future gas pipeline.

The Greek Foreign Ministry said the deal was “illegalinvalid and non-existent” and promised a “reaction both at the bilateral level and at the level of the European Union and NATO”.

Nikos Dendias, Greek Foreign Minister tweeted that he and his Egyptian counterpart Samed Shoukry “both challenged the legitimacy of the Libyan government of national unity to sign the said memorandum of understanding”.

The two men are expected to meet in Cairo on Sunday. Dendias also met with US Ambassador George Tsunis to “discuss the latest developments in Libya”, the ministry tweeted.

An EU statement backed Greece. “The 2019 Turkey-Libya Memorandum of Understanding undermines the sovereign rights of third states, does not respect the law of the sea and cannot produce any legal consequences for third states,” said Peter Stano, spokesman for the EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

On September 6, Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will be in Prague for the EPC summit, which will include the EU-27 and 17 other European countries, including Turkey, the United Kingdom and Ukraine. But a bilateral meeting between the two sides is unlikely, although Erdogan is expected to hold a bilateral meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

Comments are closed.