Turkey will improve its cooperation with Libya and is ready to provide military support for the Tripoli-based government or back joint steps in the eastern Mediterranean, broadcaster NTV cited President Tayyip Erdogan as saying on Wednesday.
Last month, Turkey and Libya's internationally recognized government signed accords on maritime boundaries, which enraged Greece. Ankara says it may send troops to Libya, which has been divided into rival political factions since 2014, if the Tripoli-based government requests it.
“We will speed up the process between Turkey and Libya. We told them that we are always ready to help if they need it. From military and security cooperation, to steps taken regarding our maritime rights: we are ready,” Erdogan told reporters in Geneva after a forum on migration.
Erdogan also said he and Russian President Vladimir Putin have appointed delegations to discuss developments in Libya and that the officials would meet “soon.”
For its part, the Kremlin said on Tuesday Erdogan and Putin would address Ankara’s offer of military support to Serraj’s government during talks in Turkey next month. Erdogan and Putin then held a phone call to discuss Libya.
Turkey has said the maritime accord allows the two countries to carry out joint energy exploration activities in the eastern Mediterranean, where Ankara has been at odds with Greece and Cyprus over offshore hydrocarbon resources.
Greece says the move violates international law. Ankara rejects this and says it is aimed at protecting its rights.
Earlier on Wednesday, Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said that once the maritime accord was approved and registered by the United Nations, Turkey will start working on licensing for oil and gas exploration and production in the region.
“I think we will start the process in the first months of 2020,” Donmez said.