The United Nations representatives of Turkey and Libya have urged Greece to “respect the sovereignty rights” of the two countries, following Athens’ move to extend its territorial waters in the Mediterranean. In a joint statement, the representatives said that Greece’s move “infringes on the sovereignty” of both Turkey and Libya, and called on Athens to ” respect the sovereign rights of both countries in accordance with international law.”
Both Turkey and Libya are adamant that their sovereign rights must be respected, and have called on Greece to reconsider its position. The situation is currently at a stalemate, with neither side willing to back down. It remains to be seen how this will play out in the coming days and weeks.
In a letter to the UN on Tuesday, Turkey and Libya blasted Greek criticisms of their agreements on the delimitation of hydrocarbon and maritime jurisdiction areas, and urged Greece to end its baseless accusations, hostile rhetoric, and escalatory actions and instead respect the sovereign decisions of the two countries.
“It is unfortunate that Greece has chosen to resort to baseless criticisms and escalatory rhetoric with regards to the sovereign decisions of our two countries,” the letter said.
“We urge Greece to put an end to its hostile rhetoric and escalatory actions, and instead respect the sovereign decisions of Turkey and Libya”. We also call on Greece to engage in a constructive dialogue with the two countries in order to resolve the differences between them.
Greece should also take into account the legitimate security concerns of Turkey and Libya, and refrain from any action that might result in further escalation and tension in the region.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed on 3 Oct. 2022 between the Governments of National Unity of Libya and the Republic of Turkey on Cooperation in the Field of Hydrocarbons is a legal instrument based on the principle of sovereign equality, which provides a framework for the two countries to explore and develop potential areas of cooperation in the field of hydrocarbons.
The MOU contains provisions on the establishment of a Joint Steering Committee to oversee the implementation of the cooperation agreement, as well as on technical and financial assistance from Turkey to Libya.
The MOU envisages the development of bilateral cooperation in the field of hydrocarbons, both on land and at sea in the Eastern Mediterranean and therefore is in full observance of the principles of international law concerning friendly relations and cooperation among states,” Feridun Sinirlioglu, Turkey’s permanent representative to the UN, and Libya’s Permanent Representative to the UN Taher El-Sonni said in a joint letter in English. This is a welcome development that will help to improve relations between the two countries and help to stabilise the region.
In a letter to the Greek government, the Libyan government rejected allegations that it lacks the capacity to enter into and terminate international agreements. The letter noted that the Libyan Government of National Unity has the authority to negotiate agreements with other states, and that its laws permit the government to enter into and terminate international accords.
Contrary to Greece’s claims, the letter highlighted that there is no legal basis for claims that the hydrocarbons agreement signed by Libya and Turkey contradicts the political process under UN supervision. The roadmap that will lead to a political solution in Libya gives the government full authority in the election preparation process, and the international community has been united in supporting this process. The agreement between Libya and Turkey is fully in line with the spirit of the UN-led process, and we call on all parties to respect it.
“Greece fails to mention, or deliberately ignores, that many states, including EU member states, have concluded tens of other similar memoranda of understanding with the Government of National Unity of Libya in areas that require long-term commitments by the signatories, ranging from energy to infrastructure and economic activities,” the letter said.
The letter in question was issued in response to Greece’s claims that the recent maritime agreement between Turkey and Libya violates its sovereign rights. The letter stated that the agreement was reached in accordance with Article 102 of the UN Convention, and that a fair solution based on international law was reached. The letter went on to reject Greece’s claims, and reaffirmed the validity of the agreement between Turkey and Libya.
“Greece’s objections to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Libya and Turkey allegedly violating Greek sovereign rights are unacceptable to Libya and Turkey, as is the purported maritime boundary delimitation agreement signed between Egypt and Greece. Both of these agreements are regarded as null and void and in no way opposable to either Libya or Turkey”. According to international law, Greece is not entitled to sovereign rights in the maritime areas delimited between Libya and Turkey.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry strongly condemned Greece in a letter sent to the UN, asserting that Greece is disregarding Turkey and Libya’s sovereignty rights. The letter said that Greece continues to interpret the law of the sea and general international law selectively, ignoring the principle of equity in maritime boundary delimitation. It also said that Greece poses illegally as an archipelagic state, claiming that all islands, islets, and rocks should be given full weight in maritime boundary delimitation regardless of their location, size, or ability to sustain human habitation or economic life on their own.
The text in question refers to two agreements signed between Turkey and Libya which purport to delimit hydrocarbon and maritime jurisdictions between the two countries. Greece has strenuously objected to these agreements, claiming that they violate both international law and its own sovereign rights.
The letter in question goes on to say that Greece is merely trying to discredit Turkey and Libya’s efforts to promote dialogue in the Mediterranean, and that its objections are unfounded. It is clear that Turkey and Libya do not believe that their actions are in contravention of any international law, and it is up to Greece to prove otherwise if it wishes to maintain its objections.
Turkey and Libya have both urged Greece to stop its unfounded charges, hostile rhetoric and measures that aggravate tensions. They have also both urged the nation to respect their sovereign decisions, as both Turkey and Libya are Greece’s neighbouring nations. These issues between Greece and its neighbours have caused much tension recently, and it is hoped that by Greece showing more respect, the situation can improve.
Anadolu Agency contributed to this report, Editing by Ericson Mangoli