The European Union will not agree on a political solution to Libya’s factional conflict unless Turkey and Libya abandon a maritime accord signed in November, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.
Libya’s internationally recognised prime minister, Fayez al-Serraj, said his country will face a “catastrophic situation” unless foreign powers put pressure on eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar to lift a blockade of oilfields that cut output to almost zero.
Serraj inked an agreement with Turkey in November seeking to create an exclusive economic zone from Turkey’s southern Mediterranean shore to Libya’s north-east coast. It carves out a slanting sea corridor, potentially clearing the way for oil and gas exploration.
Greece, which is at odds with Turkey over decades-old issues ranging from mineral rights in the Aegean Sea to ethnically-split Cyprus, says the accord is void and violates the international law of the sea.
Athens sees it as a cynical grab to scupper development of East Mediterranean gas and destabilise rivals.
“I have made it clear to all concerned there is not going to be a political solution in Libya to which the EU will agree, where unless these agreements are scrapped,” Mitsotakis told a conference panel at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos.
The EU opposes Turkey’s and Libya’s maritime deal. European Council President Charles Michel told Sarraj the agreement “infringes on the sovereign rights of third states and does not comply with the (United Nations) Law of the Sea.”
Libya has been torn by civil strife since dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s fall in 2011. Haftar, previously a general in Gaddafi’s army and whose forces hold much of Libya’s east and south, has made a renewed attempt to capture Tripoli in the north-west.
“We know this agreement was signed in exchange for Turkey’s military support to the Serraj government and, on top of that, it’s an agreement not recognised by the Libyan legislature,” Mitsotakis said.