Libya’s Presidential Council and Turkey have signed an agreement on maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean Sea that could complicate Ankara’s disputes over energy exploration with other countries including Cyprus.
The Cyprus foreign ministry on Friday condemned the deal, the details of which are not yet clear.
“Such a delimitation, if done, would constitute a serious violation of international law,” an announcement said.
“It would be contrary to the recognised principle of the convention on the law of the sea and the rights of islands’ EEZ,” it added.
“With the distortion of the law of the sea and the counterfeiting of geography – Turkey will gain no footing in the Eastern Mediterranean,” it concluded.
Turkey, which announced the accord and a deal on expanded security and military cooperation on Thursday, gave no details of their memorandum of understanding and did not specify where Turkish and Libyan waters meet.
Libya’s neighbor Egypt also dismissed the deal as “illegal”, while Greece said any such accord would be geographically absurd because it ignored the presence of the Greek island of Crete between the coasts of Turkey and Libya.
Tensions are already running high between Athens and Ankara because of Turkish drilling in the eastern Mediterranean off the coast of Cyprus, and the European Union has prepared sanctions against Turkey in response.
The dispute has left Ankara searching for allies in the region. The new agreements were signed at a meeting on Wednesday between Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Fayez Al-Sarraj, the head of the Tripoli-based government which Ankara is backing against a rival military force based in eastern Libya.
“This means protecting Turkey’s rights deriving from international law,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said of the memorandum of understanding on the “delimitation of maritime jurisdictions”.
He said that such accords could be agreed with other countries if differences could be overcome and that Ankara was in favour of “fair sharing” of resources, including off Cyprus.
But Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said any maritime accord between Libya and Turkey “ignores something that is blatantly obvious, which is that between those two countries there is the large geographical land mass of Crete.
“Consequently such an attempt borders on the absurd.”
Egypt, which has been at odds with Turkey since the Egyptian military overthrew Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in 2013, condemned the deal as “illegal and not binding or affecting the interests and the rights of any third parties”.
The internationally recognised government in Tripoli confirmed the new agreements but gave no details.