Athens hopes the new government expected to form in Libya will “free itself” from the Turkey-Libya memorandum, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said on Monday.
During a joint press conference with her Libyan counterpart Najla El Mangoush in Athens, Dendias described the agreement between Turkey and Libya as “invalid, non-existent and illegal.”
In November 2019, Turkey and Libya signed a maritime delimitation agreement that provided a legal framework to prevent any events committed by regional states. Consequently, the Greek government’s attempts to recover large parts of Libya’s continental shelf were averted when a political crisis hit the North African country in 2011.
The agreement also confirmed that Turkey and Libya are neighbors. The boundary starts from Fethiye-Marmaris-Kaş on the southwest coast of Turkey and extends to the coast of Dernas-Tobruk-Bordia in Libya.
In response, Greece and Egypt signed an agreement in 2020, designating an exclusive economic zone in the eastern Mediterranean, which Turkey has said violates its own continental shelf and overlaps with the maritime zones it agreed with Libya.
But Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah said his country’s commitment to shipping with Turkey was continuing, saying it benefited Libyans.
“We do not agree with Greece in evaluating the Libyan-Turkish shipping agreement that serves the Libyans, and (therefore) we will not abandon it,” he said in May.
Libya has been battling chaos since a NATO-backed uprising overthrew longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011 and divided the country between a UN-backed government in the capital Tripoli and rival authorities loyal to Putist general Khalifa Haftar in the east.
Haftar launched a military offensive in 2019 to conquer the capital, a campaign supported by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Russia and France. But his march on Tripoli finally failed in June 2020 after Turkey sent troops to support the internationally recognized government, which also had the support of Qatar and Italy.
Subsequent UN-sponsored peace talks led to a ceasefire in October last year and the installation of a caretaker government expected to lead the country to elections in December, but the Libyan parliament has so far not agreed on a legal framework for holding elections.
The UN cited initial differences over whether presidential elections should be held by direct or indirect vote by the elected parliament, whether a referendum on the draft permanent constitution should be held first and eligibility criteria for candidates including military personnel and dual citizens. The UN chief called on the parties and the institutions to clarify the constitutional basis for elections and to adopt the necessary election laws. In July, the UN Special Envoy for Libya, Jan Kubis, accused “spoilers” of trying to prevent the holding of December’s crucial elections to unite the divided nation. He told the UN Security Council that many key actors in Libya had reiterated their commitment to the election, but “I am afraid many of them are not ready to go through the talks.”
The Security Council has warned that any individual or group that undermines the electoral process could be subject to UN sanctions.