Libya has slammed Greece in a recent letter to the United Nations, accusing Athens of refusing to play fair, while US State Secretary Mike Pompeo says he is taking on a new initiative to de-escalate Greco-Turkish tensions over maritime borders.
In a recent letter, the Libyan UN Ambassador sought to clarify his country’s intentions over a maritime border deal his government had signed with Ankara. The deal has sparked controversy in the region, with Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Egypt opposing the agreement.
Earlier this week, during a meeting with US President Donald Trump in the oval office, Greek Prime Minister Kyriacos Mitsotakis told reporters that the agreement signed between Libya and Turkey on maritime borders "infringes upon Greece's sovereign rights."
Greece “completely disregarding the rights of Libya”
But Libyan UN Ambassador Elmahdi Elmajerbi accused Greece of “completely disregarding the rights of Libya” by rushing with allies to conclude agreements and “exploit regional tensions” in order to monopolize production and transport of natural gas.
“It will be recalled that starting in 2004, Libya held four rounds of negotiations with Greece involving experts from both countries. Those negotiations failed to produce any result because Greece insisted on defining its maritime jurisdiction vis-à-vis Libya on the basis of extremely small uninhabited islands of no legal significance,” the Libyan official wrote.
“That would have devastating impact on our national economy and the right of our future generations to the use of their natural resources,” Elmajerbi continued, adding that the response of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs was “negative and completely dismissive.”
Turkey-Libya deal “geographically ridiculous"
But speaking at an event in Washington on Tuesday, Mitsotakis described the agreement as “geographically ridiculous,” saying it completely disregarded the Greek island of Crete, the country’s largest island and the fifth largest in the Mediterranean Sea.
According to Kathimerini Greece, Pompeo has confirmed plans for a “diplomatic initiative” to help de-escalate tension regarding Greco-Turkish disputes.
Citing sources, the report said the new effort would initially seek to enhance communication between Athens and Ankara with the aim of averting the possibility of further escalation in the area.
Mitsotakis, who also met with officials in Congress, reportedly drove the message that Athens had the means to respond to any Turkish efforts to drill for natural gas reserves off the coast of southeastern Crete, an area which was delimited in the controversial maritime deal.
Ankara says the deal is based on international law, while strong opposition within war-torn Libya has questioned the validity of the agreement.