Greece to ask for NATO’s support in dispute with Turkey

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during a press conference on November 26, 2019 in Rome. (AFP)

Greece’s prime minister says he will ask other NATO members at the alliance’s London summit to support Greece in the face of fellow member Turkey’s attempts to encroach on Greek sovereignty, notably last week’s agreement with Libya delimiting maritime borders in the Mediterranean.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis told the ruling conservative New Democracy party’s congress on Sunday that the alliance cannot remain indifferent when one of its members blatantly violates international law and that a neutral approach is to the detriment of Greece, which has never sought to ratchet up tensions in the area.

Greece, Cyprus, and Egypt have strongly criticized the agreement, describing it as a serious breach of international law that disregards the lawful rights of other eastern Mediterranean countries.

On Sunday, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias held talks in Cairo with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry regarding the issue.

Spokesman Ahmed Hafez said in a statement after the meeting that the two ministers agreed that the Turkey-Libya deal was “illegal” and that the UN-recognized Government of National Accord’s (GNA) Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj doesn’t have the right to sign memorandums with other countries outside (the scope of) the UN-brokered deal that established his government.

“We agreed that that Mr. Sarraj most likely lacks the mandate to sign (two agreements with Turkey), which anyway function as destabilizing factors in the area,” Dendias said after the meeting. “We also agreed with (Shoukry) to accelerate talks between teams of experts to define and delineate Exclusive Economic Zones between Greece and Turkey,” Dendias added.

While Greece and Egypt are across from each other in the Mediterranean Sea, as are Greece and Turkey, Libya is geographically further from Turkey and the waters between the two countries are mostly those between Greece and Egypt.

The Turkey-Libya deal added tension to an ongoing dispute with Greece, Cyprus and Egypt over oil-and-gas drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey doesn’t recognize Cyprus as a state - but does recognize the breakaway Turkish Cypriot entity, the only country to do so - 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 the Turkish Cypriots to regional energy reserves.

On Friday, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias asked the Libyan ambassador to Athens to present the deal with Turkey by December 5 or face expulsion.

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.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:56 - GMT 06:56
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