Turkey condemns Greece over expulsion of Libyan ambassador

Turkey condemns Greece over expulsion of Libyan ambassador

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
Turkey condemns Greece over expulsion of Libyan ambassador

The Turkish foreign minister on Dec. 6 said that Turkey condemns Greece’s decision to expel the Libyan ambassador over a deal Turkey and Libya signed on Nov. 27, saying such a move is “unacceptable.”

“It is unacceptable for an ambassador to be deported. Is it OK to threaten a country? [The deal] is no secret. Is it possible that something passed from our parliament to stay secret? If you call Libya and say, ‘I will deport your ambassador if you do not send that document,’ Libya is a proud country, it will not bow down,” Çavuşoğlu said.

Turkish parliament ratifies maritime pact with Libya
Turkish parliament ratifies maritime pact with Libya

“We condemn this decision. Libya is an independent and sovereign state. This has shown the true colors of Greece,” he added.

The minister’s remarks came at a press conference in the Italian capital of Rome. Çavuşoğlu is currently in Rome to attend the fifth Mediterranean Dialogues (MED) conference. Çavuşoğlu on Dec. 5 also met with his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio and discussed bilateral ties between Libya, Syria and the eastern Mediterranean.

Regarding the details of the agreement, Çavuşoğlu said that both signatory countries would have provided the details had it been asked in a kind manner.

Çavuşoğlu also conveyed that Turkey and Libya hammered two agreements, one on security cooperation and the other on restriction of marine jurisdictions.

“The agreement complies with international law,” he said.

The minister also added that Ankara is ready for cooperation in the eastern Mediterranean, with the exception of Greek Cyprus, yet “some countries preferred to criticize Turkey.”

“Turkey is in the region to defend its rights,” he said.

Greece said on Dec. 6 that it was expelling the Libyan ambassador over the Turkish-Libyan deal on maritime zones in the Mediterranean.

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said the ambassador had been summoned to the ministry in the morning to be informed of the decision and was given 72 hours to leave the country. He also said the decision did not mean Athens was breaking diplomatic ties with Libya.

Greece asked Libya last week for details of the deal. Dendias earlier said if the Libyan ambassador to Greece does not present authorities with the agreement by Dec. 6, he would be declared persona non grata and expelled.

Greek authorities so far have not taken a similar step towards the Turkish ambassador in Athens, Turkish diplomatic sources told Hürriyet Daily News on condition of anonymity. The Greek decision for declaring persona non grata for the Libyan ambassador, but not taking such a step against the Turkish enjoy in Athens lies in the subtext of the remarks by the foreign minister of Greece as the Greek side accuses the Libyan foreign minister of deceiving Athens.

“The text of this agreement carries the signature of the Libyan foreign minister. It is the same person who, in September, had assured the Greek side otherwise,” Dendias said.

Dendias said the Greek government knew that a memorandum of understanding was being drafted between Turkey and Libya. However, when he broached the subject with his Libyan counterpart in September, the latter had acknowledged that, although discussions were under way, such a deal would be problematic and could not be signed.

Turkish diplomatic sources stressed that Ankara has always urged Athens to avoid any moves in the east Mediterranean that would exclude Turkey and the deal with Libya should not be a surprise for Greek authorities.

The memorandum between Turkey and Libya on maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean Sea was ratified by the Turkish Parliament on Dec. 6, the same day it was also approved by Libya’s United Nations-recognized government.

On Nov. 27, the foreign ministers of Libya and Turkey sealed the “Marine Jurisdictions” maritime boundary delimitation deal in Istanbul.

The memorandum establishes 18.6 nautical miles of a continental shelf and Exclusive Economic Zone boundary line between Turkey and Libya.

Ahead of signing a deal with Libya, Turkey on Nov. 13 sent a letter to the U.N. addressing the secretary-general and reaffirmed the outer limits of its continental shelf in the eastern Mediterranean.