Cyprus, Greece decry Turkey-Libya maritime border deal

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Cyprus and Greece have strongly criticized an agreement between Turkey and Libya’s UN-recognized government to delineate the maritime boundaries between the two countries, describing it as a serious breach of international law that disregards the lawful rights of other eastern Mediterranean countries.

The Cypriot Foreign Ministry said on Friday a Memorandum of Understanding the two countries signed has no legal validity and can’t undermine the rights of Cyprus or other coastal states.

It said Turkey’s “distortion” of international law doesn’t afford it any legal rights and demonstrates that Ankara is alone in its views.

The Turkey-Libya deal announced this week added tension to an ongoing dispute with Greece, Cyprus and Egypt over oil-and-gas drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean - with the European Union backing members Greece and Cyprus in the escalating spat.

Turkey does not recognize Cyprus as a state and is conducting exploratory gas drilling in waters where the ethnically divided island nation has exclusive economic rights.

Ankara says it’s defending its rights and those of breakaway Turkish Cypriots to regional energy reserves.

In Athens, a spokesman for the Greek Foreign Ministry said Turkey was not acting in a neighborly manner.

“The signing by Turkey and Libya of a memorandum of understanding cannot violate the sovereign rights of third countries. Such an action would be a flagrant violation of the International Law of the Sea and would produce no legal effect,” spokesman Alexandros Yennimatas said.

The Turkish ambassador to Athens was summoned to the ministry on Thursday for consultations with the minister, while Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis discussed the issue on Friday on a call with French President Emmanuel Macron, Greek officials said.

Mitsotakis is planning to raise the issue at a summit of NATO leaders in London next week.

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