Turkey and Libya sign deal on maritime zones in the Mediterranean

Turkey and Libya sign deal on maritime zones in the Mediterranean

Turkey and Libya sign deal on maritime zones in the Mediterranean

Turkey and Libya’s internationally recognized government have signed an agreement on maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean Sea as well as a deal on expanded security and military cooperation, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Nov. 28.

The deals aim to “protect Turkey’s rights under international law” in the region of Mediterranean, the minister said, speaking at a joint press conference with Iraqi Regional Government Prime Minister Masrour Barzani.

Turkey had been unable to make such deals with some other countries in the region due to ongoing bilateral problems, the minister noted but could do so in the future.

Turkey will sign agreements with those countries in the Mediterranean “if the grounds become suitable” in the future, he said, indirectly referring to Mediterranean countries such as Egypt and Greece. But the minister excluded Greek Cyprus, as the Turkish government does not officially recognize the southern administration of the Island.

“The Security and Military Cooperation” and “Restriction of Marine Jurisdictions” agreements were signed at a meeting in Istanbul on Nov. 27 between Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan and Fayez al-Serraj, the head of the Tripoli-based government which Ankara is backing against a rival military force based in eastern Libya.

The (security) agreement establishes training and education, structures the legal framework and strengthens the ties between our militaries,” the Turkish presidency’s communications director, Fahrettin Altun, said in a tweet.

“We will also continue advocating for a political solution to build a democratic, stable and prosperous Libya,” he said.

Altun’s office said in a statement that the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on the “delimitation of maritime jurisdictions,” which aims to protect the two countries’ rights under international law.

Libya has been divided since 2014 into rival military and political camps based in the capital Tripoli and the east. Serraj’s government conflicts with forces led by Khalifa Haftar based in eastern Libya. Haftar controls most of Libya’s oil fields and facilities, but oil revenues are controlled by the central bank in Tripoli. The competing military alliances are also battling on the outskirts of the capital.

Turkey does not step back from drilling for natural gas and military activities in the Mediterranean despite European Union sanctions against Turkey declared two weeks ago to punish it for drilling off the coast of Cyprus Island.

Greek Cyprus signed several maritime economic zone deals with neighboring countries although the island has not unified yet.

Turkey’s move with Libya is a step taken against unilateral deals of Greek Cypriots and Greece in oil and gas exploration zones in the Mediterranean and granting licenses to international companies.