On Thursday, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias met his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, in Cairo. They discussed the demarcation of maritime borders as well as recent developments in Libya and the eastern Mediterranean.
This visit comes a week after Greece and Italy signed an agreement regarding the demarcation of their maritime borders. This resulted in the establishment of an exclusive economic zone for both countries, solving a long-standing issue related to fishing in the Ionian sea.
Upon signing the agreement, Dendias said that Greece sought to establish exclusive economic zones with all its neighbors. The eastern Mediterranean region has witnessed rising tensions for months over natural resource exploration. A diplomatic confrontation has broken out between Turkey, Greece and Cyprus.
In December 2019, Turkey signed an agreement with the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) regarding the maritime borders between both countries. This provoked Greece, which considered the agreement a violation of its sovereign rights, with Dendias claiming that “maritime borders are only identified by legitimate agreements”.
Last year, Ankara began to provide significant military support to the GNA after signing the maritime border agreement, which also provides Turkey with oil exploration rights near the Greek island of Crete. Greece, Cyprus, Israel, and the European Union have all rejected the agreement.
In May of 2019, Turkey announced that it would start oil exploration in the eastern Mediterranean within 3-4 months. Egypt has warned Turkey against taking this step. Cairo has previously demarcated its maritime borders with Cyprus after new discoveries of gas between both countries.