Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Monday his country’s maritime boundaries pact with Libya would allow for joint energy exploration by the two countries in areas of the eastern Mediterranean.
The memorandum of understanding, which Turkey’s parliament endorsed last week, marks marine borders on a diagonal stretch of sea between Turkey and Libya.
Turkey says the deal aims to protect its rights in the eastern Mediterranean, where Greece has claimed jurisdiction over large parts of the sea based on the presence of its islands.
But Athens is outraged at Turkey’s claim to areas that run a short distance away from its major islands of Crete and Rhodes, standing in the path of a planned pipeline to carry gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe.
“With this new agreement between Turkey and Libya, we can hold joint exploration operations in these exclusive economic zones that we determined. There is no problem,” Erdoğan said on Turkey’s state broadcaster TRT.
“Other international actors cannot carry out exploration operations in these areas Turkey drew (up) with this accord without getting permission. Greek Cyprus, Egypt, Greece and Israel cannot establish a gas transmission line without first getting permission from Turkey,” he said.
As well as allowing Turkey to search for gas off Libya with the government’s permission, the agreements signed with Tripoli could see Turkey deploying troops in the country, Erdoğan said.
Turkey has been a main backer of the UN-recognised Libyan government in Tripoli, which is facing attack from the Libyan National Army of General Khalifa Haftar. The general’s forces control the eastern part of the country and are backed by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Russia.