Greece to ask for NATO’s help in maritime dispute with Turkey
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Greece to ask for NATO’s help in maritime dispute with Turkey

Cyprus, Egypt join Athens in condemning last week’s Libyan-Turkish maritime borders accord, amid rising tensions over oil-and-gas drilling rights in eastern Mediterranean

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis arrives for a meeting with Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte at the Chigi Palace premier's office in Rome, November 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis arrives for a meeting with Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte at the Chigi Palace premier's office in Rome, November 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s prime minister said Sunday 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 delineating maritime borders in the Mediterranean.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis told the ruling conservative New Democracy party’s congress Sunday that NATO 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.

Cyprus, Egypt and Greece have all condemned the Libyan-Turkish accord as contrary to international law. The foreign ministers of Egypt and Greece, Sameh Shoukry and Nikos Dendias, discussed the issue Sunday in Cairo.

Spokesman Ahmed Hafez said in a statement after the meeting that the two ministers agreed that the Turkey-Libya deal was “illegal” and that Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj does not have the right to sign memorandums with other countries outside (the scope of) the UN-brokered deal that established his government.

A picture taken from Cyprus’ warship ‘Ioannides’ shows a Royal Navy Lynx helicopter taking part in the “Multinational CIMIC Exercise, ARGONAUT 2019, Search and Rescue (SAR) Operations, a rescue drill in which the militaries of Cyprus, Greece, France, Britain, Israel, Germany and the US participated on May 30, 2019. (Iakovos Hatzistavrou/AFP)

“We agreed 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 Egypt,” 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 does not 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 is defending its rights and those of the Turkish Cypriots to regional energy reserves.

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