Turkey condemned on Dec. 6 a decision by Greece to expel the Libyan ambassador in response to an accord between Libya and Turkey that maps out a sea boundary between the two countries close to the Greek island of Crete.
“Expelling an ambassador just because of the [agreement] that we signed is not a mature behavior in diplomacy. This is outrageous,” Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told reporters in televised comments during a visit to Rome.
Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Siyala also said on Dec. 6 that Greece’s decision to expel the Libyan ambassador was not acceptable. “The move is unacceptable,” Siyala told Reuters. Greece does not have diplomatic representation in Libya, but Libya would have reciprocated the move if it did, he said.
Greece said on Dec. 6 it was expelling Libya’s ambassador to the country, angered at the Turkey-Libyan accord reached on Nov. 27.
Mohamed Younis AB Menfi had 72 hours to leave the country, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias told a news briefing. Dendias called the Turkey-Libyan accord a “blatant violation of international law.”
The move did not mean Greece was severing diplomatic relations with Libya, Dendias said.
The expulsion is the latest twist in a saga of Mediterranean states jostling to claim yet-untapped oil and gas in the region.
Turkey and the internationally recognized government of Libya signed the accord defining their boundaries and a deal on expanded security and military cooperation, a step Turkey said was protecting its rights.
Greece immediately shot back, calling the accord absurd because it ignored the presence of Crete between the coasts ofTurkey and Libya.
Greece and Turkey are at odds over a host of issues ranging from mineral rights in the Aegean Sea to Cyprus. Tensions are also running high because of Turkish drilling off Cyprus, and the European Union has prepared sanctions against Turkey in response.