On April 12th, Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah of the Interim government affirmed Tripoli’s commitment to the 2019 maritime agreement with Turkey.
He did so in a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The controversial deal has long been rejected by Greece, Cyprus and France. It also led to thousands of Syrian militants being deployed to Libya in order to fight on behalf of the Government of National Accord against Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s forces.
Dbeibah was on his first official visit to Ankara, and Erdogan pledged to support Libya’s unity, its reconstruction and its military.
Turkey would also be sending 150,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses, as well as managing a pandemic hospital in Tripoli to help the North African country battle its outbreak, Erdogan said.
The number seems impressive, but it should be reminded that Libya’s population is nearly 7 million.
Turkey has been closely involved in Libya, attempting to establish military bases and exploit Libya’s EEZ and land resources under the justification of military assistance.
Turkey sent military supplies and militants to Libya, helping to attempt and tilt the balance of power in favour of the Tripoli government.
Back in 2019, Turkey signed the agreement in question with the Tripoli-based government delineating the maritime boundaries between the two countries in the Mediterranean, triggering protests from Greece and Cyprus. Both countries denounced the agreement, saying it was a serious breach of international law that disregarded the rights of other eastern Mediterranean countries.
“The memorandum of understanding concerning the maritime jurisdiction in the Mediterranean that we signed with our neighbour Libya, has secured the interest and future of both countries,” Erdogan said.
Dbeibah said the deal serves both Turkey and Libya’s national interests. Initially, the Libyan interim PM attempted to balance Turkey and Greece, but appears to have abandoned Athens’ concerns mostly.
“Regarding the agreements signed by our countries, especially the maritime deal, we reaffirm that those agreements are valid,” Dbeibah said after talks with Erdogan.
He added that it was important to start a dialogue that would take into account all involved parties’ interests.
Meanwhile, Greece called for the accord to be cancelled, as it reopened its embassy in Libya after seven years on April 12th.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias met Libya’s alternative Prime Minister Hussein Atiya Abdul Hafeez al-Qatrani in Benghazi and noted that Libya’s parliament had not ratified the maritime accord, which Greece considers has no legal force.
Erdogan and Dbeibah, who was accompanied by a large delegation, also oversaw the signing of five agreements, including concerning the construction of electricity plants in Libya.
The two countries also agreed to take steps to facilitate the return of Turkish companies to complete stalled projects in the oil-rich North African nation, Erdogan said.
With Erdogan refusing to let go of his grip on Libya’s resources, it is likely that the crisis in the North-African country is far from over.
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