Greece wants part in Libyan talks amid conflicts over maritime boundaries

Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Greece wants to participate in United Nations (UN)-sponsored talks on the Libya conflict scheduled to take place in Berlin in January, weekly newspaper To Vima reported on Sunday.

“We do not want a source of instability in our neighborhood. Therefore, we want a say in developments in Libya. We want to be part of the solution in Libya, as it concerns us too,” Mitsotakis told the daily in an interview.

Mitsotakis’ remarks came after Turkey and Libya’s UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) signed two contentious deals in November, one was on the security agreement, and the other was on the two countries’ maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean. Ankara and Tripoli later endorsed the two conduct agreements.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan eyes to deploy military troops in the North African country with a stated intent of supporting the GNA in its fight against the Libyan National Army (LNA).

The country has been plunged into chaos since 2011, when its former leader Muammar Gaddafi was ousted in a NATO-backed uprising, and split between Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj’s GNA, which rules the western part and general-turned-warlord Khalifa Haftar’s LNA which controls the oil-rich eastern side of the country.

Erdogan and al-Sarraj also agreed on the two countries’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), stretching from Turkey’s southern Mediterranean shore to Libya’s northeast coast in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The two countries plan to carry out joint natural gas drilling operations in the disputed waters where the tension is already high among the regional powers due to Turkey’s recent gas and oil exploration off the coast of Cyprus – which has been split between its Greek and Turkish populations ever since ethnic tensions resulted in Turkey’s 1974 invasion.

Greece and Cyprus reject the deal between Turkey and Libya as being contrary to international law, arguing that Turkey and Libya share no maritime border.

“[Libya] is our natural maritime neighbor, not Turkey’s,” Mitsotakis said on Sunday.

The Greek government has sent two letters to the UN and objected to the maritime boundary deal, asking for the matter to be taken up by the UN Security Council, the Greek spokesman said on Tuesday.

Greece expelled the Libyan ambassador last week over the maritime deal.

Libya and Greece have already been in conflict over offshore exploration licenses once issued by Athens for waters south of Crete, located between Turkey and Libya.

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