In an important step, Egypt and Greece signed an agreement to demarcate their maritime borders, during a visit by Greek Foreign Minister, Nikos Dendias to Cairo. This represents a severe setback to Turkey, a country which seeks to expand its influence in the Mediterranean.
Hasan Al-Momani, Assistant Professor of International Relations at the University of Jordan, said in an interview with Sky News Arabia that the agreement between Egypt and Greece comes in the framework of coordination between both states. He added that this agreement puts an end to attempts by Turkey to redraw its maritime borders.
Assistant Professor at the College of Security and Global Studies, Kleanthis Kyriakidis, told Sky News Arabia that the demarcation of the maritime border between Egypt and Greece voids the agreement between Turkey and the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), signed in 2019.
For his part, Mahmoud Mohieldin, Member of the Defence and National Security Committee in the Egyptian Parliament, confirmed that Ankara was taking advantage of the Libyan crisis, to explore for gas in the eastern Mediterranean. Mohieldin added that Turkey will be forced to demarcate its maritime border with Greece and pointed out that there is no common maritime border with Egypt, unless Ankara ignores the island of Cyprus. This remains a major issue for the European Union.
Sky News reported that the importance of the agreement gives Egypt and Greece the right to drill and explore for natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean. It also strengthens the bilateral relationship between Cairo and Athens in several fields. Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry said the agreement “allows Egypt and Greece to move forward in benefitting from the resources available in their respective exclusive economic zones, especially oil and gas reserves.” According to the Egyptian constitution, the agreement requires the approval of the Parliament to enter into force, which many expect will be soon.
Dendias described the agreement as “fair” as it preserves the interests of the two countries, urging other countries to follow their example, and abide by international law.
He stressed the illegality of the agreement signed between Turkey and the GNA, noting that it has no constitutional basis.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning the agreement, claiming that it violated Turkey’s “continental shelf”, and Libya’s maritime rights.
Furthermore, Egypt’s foreign ministry spokesman, Ahmed Hafez, spoke of the Turkish response in such terms on his official Twitter account: “Surprisingly, such [Turkish] statements and allegations were issued by a party who had not originally seen the agreement and its details.”
Libya has been marred in chaos since the ouster and killing of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. It now has two rival authorities and a multitude of militias vying for control of the country. The Government of National Accord (GNA) is based in Tripoli, while Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), supports a parallel administration based in the east.