Turkey signs maritime boundaries deal with Libya amid exploration row

Turkey and Libya have signed two agreements on security and military cooperation and maritime boundaries. The new agreements were signed after Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan and the internationally-recognized government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj held a closed meeting in Istanbul on Nov. 27.


Libya’s internationally recognized government and Turkey have signed an agreement on maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean Sea that could complicate Ankara’s disputes over energy exploration with other countries.

The Turkish government, which announced the accord and a deal on expanded security and military cooperation on Nov. 28, provided few details.

It did not say where the Turkish and Libyan maritime boundaries met but Turkish drilling in the eastern Mediterranean has angered Greek Cypriots, Athens and the European Union.

EU foreign ministers agreed economic sanctions against Turkey two weeks ago to punish it for drilling near the coast of Cyprus in violation of a maritime economic zone established off the divided island.

The dispute pits Turkey against Greece, Cyprus and other eastern Mediterranean states that have agreed maritime and economic zones, leaving Ankara searching for allies in the region.

The new agreements were signed at a meeting in Istanbul on Nov. 27 between Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan and Fayez al-Serraj, the head of the Tripoli-based government which Ankara is backing against a rival military force based in eastern Libya.

“This means protecting Turkey’s rights deriving from international law,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said of the memorandum of understanding on the “delimitation of maritime jurisdictions.”

He said that such accords could be agreed with other countries if differences could be overcome and that Ankara was in favour of “fair sharing” of resources, including off Cyprus.

“We are ready to do this working together with everyone, but if countries do not favour this that is their own preference.”

The internationally recognised government in Tripoli confirmed the new agreements but gave no details.

Military cooperation

The Turkish presidency’s communications director Fahrettin Altun said in a tweet early on Nov. 28 Ankara was confident that the military cooperation deal would improve security for Libyans.

“The agreement establishes training and education, structures the legal framework and strengthens the ties between our militaries,” he said. “We will also continue advocating for a political solution to build a democratic, stable and prosperous Libya.”

Libya has been divided since 2014 into rival military and political camps based in the capital Tripoli and the east. Serraj’s government is in conflict with forces led by Khalifa Haftar based in eastern Libya.