WASHINGTON - Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has slammed Turkey’s recent maritime accord with Libya as void of legal founding, as well as calling it ‘geographically ridiculous’ on Tuesday.
In a later press conference with US President Donald Trump, Mitsotakis urged ‘support’ from the White House over the issue, but was met with silence from Trump who resumed to take other questions from journalists.
Signed in Libya last month, the agreement seeks to create an exclusive economic zone from Turkey’s southern Mediterranean shore to Libya’s northeast coast, which includes the Greek island of Crete.
“You just need to look at the map to understand that there is no connection between Turkey and Libya. Of course the agreement assumes that our islands, including Crete, does not have an exclusive economic zone,” said Mitsotakis, speaking at the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington.
He resumed to say that the deal has also not been ratified by the Libyan Parliament, a further indication "of how Turkey thinks in terms of the Eastern Mediterranean,” he added.
Greece and Cyprus, which have long had maritime and territorial disputes with Turkey, say the accord violates international law of the sea, and is a bid by Ankara to destabilise rivals and thwart the development of East Mediterranean gas.
Greece has expelled Libya’s ambassador to Athens and filed a complaint with the United Nations, but Mitsotakis said that despite their differences, Greece was keeping communications with Turkey open.
In a meeting with Trump later on Tuesday, the Greek premier intervened during a question to the US President to note that ‘it is important to point out that the agreement signed between Turkey and Libya infringe upon Greece’s sovereign rights and essentially cause great concern and instability in a region which is already highly problematic.’
He went on to say ‘so we’ll be very much looking to your support to make sure that these types of provocative agreements are not being put into place.’
Trump refrained from condemning Turkish provocations, and responded in complete silence, only slightly acknowledging Mitsotakis with a faint nod before moving on to further questions.
Turkey has meanwhile begun deploying troops to Libya in support for the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says 35 soldiers have already been sent since the Turkish parliament approved military deployment to the troubled North African region last week.
Libya has been embroiled in conflict since a 2011 NATO-backed revolution killed longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi.