EU Rejects Turkey-Libya Maritime Boundary Deal Amid Escalating Dispute With Greece

An accord between Libya and Turkey mapping out maritime boundaries on the Mediterranean Sea is a violation of international law, and Greeces sovereignty, European Union leaders declared at the European Council summit on Dec. 12 in Brussels.

On Nov. 27, Turkey signed a memorandum of understanding on maritime zones with Libya that ignores Greece, Egypt, and Cyprus—countries that also border the Mediterranean Sea. Moreover, the deal does not take into consideration the fact that between Turkey and Libya lies Crete—the biggest island of Greece.

The heads of all European Union states convened today for a summit in Brussels and took a stance on the Turkey-Libya accord by adopting a conclusion on the issue.

“The Turkey-Libya Memorandum of Understanding on the delimitation of maritime jurisdictions in the Mediterranean Sea infringes upon the sovereign rights of third States, does not comply with the Law of the Sea and cannot produce any legal consequences for third States. The European Council unequivocally reaffirms its solidarity with Greece and Cyprus regarding these actions by Turkey,” the conclusion states.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attends the European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium December 12, 2019. (Christian Hartmann/Reuters)
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attends the European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium December 12, 2019. (Christian Hartmann/Reuters)
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attends the European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium Dec. 12, 2019. (Christian Hartmann/Reuters)

The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen spoke on Dec. 9 at the summit of chairs of parliamentary groups from the center-right European Peoples Party (EPP). Von der Leyen said that the EU executive fully backs Greece in its escalating dispute with Turkey over maritime zones, according to EurActiv.

“We are on your side, Turkeys action in the Aegean is unacceptable, we will send a clear message to Turkey,” Von der Leyen said.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said that the Memorandum of Understanding between Turkey and Libya “raises major concerns. We expressed our solidarity and our support to Greece and Cyprus, and we will continue doing that.”

The European United Left/Nordic Green Left parliamentary group (GUE/NGL) deemed the Turkey-Libya agreement “arbitrary and illegal since it completely ignores the International Law of the Sea and the legitimate rights of other states in the region.” according to its website.

“The recent illicit Memorandum of Understanding with Libya and Turkeys verbal note to the UN with the defined unilateral coordinates violate the sovereign rights of Greece,” the website states.

“France, Italy and the Netherlands expressed their full support to Greece during a meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers in Brussels” held on Dec. 9, according to EurActiv.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio will meet in Rome soon to “jointly coordinate the next actions,” says the same source.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said the Turkey-Libyan accord was a “blatant violation of international law.” Greece also expelled the Libyan ambassador, Mohamed Younis AB Menfi, on Dec. 6, giving him 72 hours to leave the country.

Turkish diplomat Cagatay Erciyes, the head of the air force and navy department at the Turkish Foreign Ministry, posted Dec. 2 on Twitter a map showing the alleged maritime demarcation line between Turkey and Libya, according to Ekathimerini.com.

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