FM Dendias in Egypt for talks after Türkiye’s energy deal with Libya

Mon, 10 Oct 2022 9:38 GMT
The foreign ministers of Greece and Egypt met Sunday in Cairo, following maritime and gas deals that Türkiye signed with Libya last week.
FM Dendias in Egypt for talks after Türkiye’s energy deal with Libya

The foreign ministers of Greece and Egypt met Sunday in Cairo, following maritime and gas deals that Türkiye signed with Libya last week.

Cairo and Athens have strengthened ties in recent years, including cooperation in developing energy resources, combating terrorism and signing controversial maritime border agreements, along with the Greek Cypriot administration.

At a joint news conference, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said talks with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shukry, focused on the memorandums of understanding between Türkiye and the Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah-led Tripoli-based government.

One of the two administrations grappling for power in the divided North African country, Dbeibah’s government was installed in the capital Tripoli in the west of Libya as part of a United Nations-led peace process last year.

Dendias claimed that such energy agreements were a “threat to regional stability.”

The deals, signed last week, include the joint exploration of hydrocarbon reserves in Libya’s offshore waters and national territory.

Dendias labeled the deals “illegal,” claiming they infringed on Greek waters. Egypt’s Foreign Ministry argued that Dbeibah's government has “no authority to conclude any international agreements nor memorandums of understanding,” suggesting that its mandate expired following Libya’s failure to hold nationwide elections in December last year.

Ankara last week said the energy deal was signed between “two sovereign states” and rejected objections to the hydrocarbons deal by Greece and European Union, stressing such statements had “no importance or value for our country,” and called on the bloc and its member states to “not overstep their boundaries and powers.”

Relations between Türkiye and Greece are at their worst in years. Undersea gas and oil exploration rights in the Eastern Mediterranean, maritime boundaries, air space, the ethnically split island of Cyprus, the status of the islands in the Aegean Sea that have a demilitarized status and migrants are key parts of the dispute.

The energy accord builds on an agreement signed between Ankara and a previous Tripoli-based government in 2019. The deal demarcated the countries’ shared maritime borders in the Eastern Mediterranean to prevent any fait accompli by regional states.

Dbeibah also defended the energy deal, saying they would help the North African country pursue oil and gas exploration “in our territorial waters with the help of neighboring countries.”

Dbeibah said on Wednesday he was “not concerned about the stance of states that have opposed the deal.”

“It’s our right to sign MoUs, and we have signed hundreds of them in order to promote cooperation with other states,” explained.

Türkiye has been a prominent backer of Libya’s Tripoli-based government. Ankara’s support for Tripoli’s previous Government of National Accord (GNA) helped turn the tide of Libya’s civil war.

The oil-rich nation plunged into chaos following the 2011 overthrow and killing of Gadhafi, with myriad armed groups and foreign powers moving in to fill the power vacuum.

In August this year, Tripoli saw deadly clashes between forces backing Dbeibah and those loyal to his rival Fathi Bashagha, who was appointed by the Tobruk-based parliament as prime minister. It left 32 people dead and 159 injured.

For lasting stability, Türkiye has said it deems the holding of free, fair, nationwide elections as soon as possible as crucial, in line with the aspirations of the Libyan people.

Egypt supports Dbeibah administration’s rival and, along with Russia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and France, was a key backer of eastern-aligned putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar, who is now allied with Bashagha, while Türkiye and Qatar supported the U.N.-backed GNA.

In the news conference on Sunday, Egypt's chief diplomat called for the United Nations to take “a clear position” on the legitimacy of Dbeibah’s government, saying the international body “should not keep silent.”


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