Turkey’s president and Libya’s prime minister have committed to a 2019 maritime border agreement, despite complaints from Greece and Cyprus.
At a meeting in Ankara, Libya’s new Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed an agreement that delineates maritime borders between the two countries in the Mediterranean.
Cyprus and Greece have rejected the agreement as a serious breach of international law, which disregarded their own maritime borders.
“The memorandum of understanding concerning the maritime jurisdiction in the Mediterranean that we signed with our neighbour Libya, has secured the interest and future of both countries,” said Erdogan at Monday’s meeting.
Dbeibah, who was on his first official trip to Ankara since taking office, agreed with Erdogan saying it served the national interests of both nations.
“Regarding the agreements signed by our countries, especially the maritime deal, we reaffirm that those agreements are valid,” he said.
He acknowledged the objections of Greece and Cyprus and said it was vital that a conversation between all concerned parties should begin.
Dbeibah had previously indicated that his government would be willing to form a Libyan-Greek committee that would negotiate the maritime boundaries between the two countries and identify an exclusive economic zone for oil and gas drilling rights.
Recently discovered natural gas reserves in the area have become a source of friction between countries in the Eastern Mediterranean.
While calling for the Turkish-Libyan agreement to be cancelled, Greece also reopened its embassy in Libya having closing it seven years earlier.
The maritime deal was ratified by the Turkish parliament in December 2019, but was quickly objected to by the US, Russia, Egypt, the EU, and the Arab League.
In addition to reaffirming their commitment to the 2019 maritime deal, Turkey also agreed to provide Libya with 150,000 Covid-19 vaccine does and oversee a pandemic hospital in the capital, Tripoli.
“Our support will uninterruptedly continue for Libya’s defence industry and for the reconstruction of its military and security architecture,” said the Turkish president.
Libya is emerging from a devastating civil war, where Turkey poured military supplies and fighters to support the UN-backed Government of National Accord, based in Tripoli, turning back an offensive from Khalifa Haftar’s militias.