Turkey has declared a maritime deal struck between Greece and Egypt designating an exclusive economic zone in the eastern Mediterranean between the two countries “null and void.”
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Aug. 6 that the exclusive zone designated in the agreement falls in the area of Turkey’s continental shelf. It also said that the deal also violates Libya’s maritime rights.
“A maritime boundary between Greece and Egypt does not exist. With respect to Turkey, the so-called maritime delimitation agreement signed today is null and void. This understanding will reflect on the ground and at the table,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.
“The supposedly-delimited area lies within the Turkish continental shelf as declared to the United Nations.”
Egypt and Greece signed an agreement on Aug. 6 that sets the sea boundary between the two countries and demarcates an exclusive economic zone for oil and gas drilling rights.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry made the announcement at a joint press conference with his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias in Cairo.
“This agreement allows both countries to move forward in maximizing the utilization of the resources available in the exclusive economic zone, especially promising oil and gas reserves,” Shoukry said.
In Greece, diplomats said the deal effectively nullified an accord between Turkey and the internationally recognised government of Libya.
Last year, those two parties agreed to maritime boundaries in a deal Egypt and Greece decried as illegal and a violation of international law. Greece maintains it infringed on its continental shelf and specifically that off the island of Crete.
“The agreement with Egypt is within the framework of international law,” Dendias said.
“It is the absolute opposite of the illegal, void and legally unfounded memorandum of understanding that was signed between Turkey and Tripoli. Following the signing of this agreement, the non existent Turkish-Libyan memorandum has ended up where it belonged from the beginning: in the trash can.”
His statement came hours after Greece said it is ready to start exploratory talks on the demarcation of maritime zones with Turkey as soon as this month.
Tensions were already high between Greece and Turkey over the exploration of energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean. The NATO members are also at odds over a range of issues from overflights in the Aegean Sea to maritime zones in the eastern Mediterranean and ethnically divided Cyprus.
Egypt, a regional rival of Turkey, has close relations with Greece and Cyprus.