Libya, Greece agree to resume Mediterranean border negotiations


Libya and Greece have agreed to resume talks over their disputed maritime border.

The President of the Presidential Council of Libya, Mohammed al-Menfi, met Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Athens on Wednesday. The two men agreed on the “immediate resumption” of bilateral talks on their border with the Mediterranean Sea, the Greek state-run news agency in Athens reported.

The dispute between Athens and Tripoli over the maritime border is old and involves several countries in the Mediterranean region. Turkey signed an agreement with the Tripoli-based Libya-based national accord government in 2019 to conduct offshore energy drilling operations off the Libyan coast. However, the area includes the waters that Greece and Cyprus claim to be part of their maritime territory. Egypt has supported Greece for the most part on this issue, as has France. The disagreement also concerns the Libyan civil war that ended last year, where Turkey supported the national accord government and Egypt supported the east-based Libyan National Army.

Most recently, Mitsotakis called Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in March to discuss energy cooperation in the sea. The move followed Turkey and Egypt who mended their long-damaged relationship and may have been motivated by Greece’s fears that the two will sign a new maritime agreement.

The meeting between Libyan and Greek leaders also came after political developments in Libya. An interim unity government took office in March after the civil war ended in October last year. The new government’s relations with Greece have so far been cordial. New Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibeh met Mitsotakis last week in Tripoli. Mitsotakis called the meeting “productive” and the two discussed possibilities for energy cooperation, according to his speech. France also established relations with the unity government in March.

Problems remain between Greece and Turkey, Libya’s ally, in the water. This week, the Greek Foreign Ministry said a recent Turkish communication from one of its energy exploration vessels in the Mediterranean “has no authority”.

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