The foreign ministry of the Republic of Cyprus has condemned the signing of an agreement on maritime boundaries between Turkey and Libya, calling it a “serious violation” of international law.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who announced on Thursday the signing of an MoU with Libya, including a deal on expanded security and military cooperation, said the accord aimed at protecting Ankara’s rights under international law.
The Turkish government gave no details of the memorandum of understanding between the two governments while it also did not specify where Turkish and Libyan waters meet.
But the accord was seen as invalid by other countries, including the Republic of Cyprus, with the country’s foreign ministry issuing a statement warning that such a deal would not be legal if it was acted upon.
Cavusoglu says even though Turkey was unable to reach deals with a number of other countries, his government hoped this could be achieved in the future
“This kind of delimitation, if it were to go through, would constitute a serious breach of International Law, as it would be disregarding the legal rights of other coastal states in the Eastern Mediterranean and it would be further going up against the codified principle of the Convention on the Law of the Sea as well as customary law regarding the rights of islands to an EEZ and a continental shelf” a statement said.
The deal also drew criticism from Greece and Egypt, with Athens saying the deal was geographically unreasonable as it ignored the presence of the Greek island of Crete.
The deal “ignores something that is blatantly obvious, a large geographical land mass of Crete which is between those two countries,” Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said.
Cairo also dismissed the bilateral agreement altogether, saying it was “illegal.”
But criticism also came from inside Libya, a country that has been divided since 2014 between two competing camps affiliated with political and military rivalries.
Tripoli, where the recognized government is based in Libya, has been challenged by forces based in eastern Libya, led by Khalifa Haftar whose camp has cut ties with Turkey.
During a conference one day after the MoU signing, Cavusoglu told journalists that even though Turkey was unable to reach deals with a number of other countries, his government hoped this could be achieved in the future.
A Turkish letter to the United Nations regarding the bilateral accord was expected to draw a swift response from the Republic of Cyprus, according to the island’s foreign ministry statement.
Observers say the accord could further complicate disputes over energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean where Turkish drilling has drawn criticism from the Republic of Cyprus and some of its allies in the region, as well as the European Union.