Huffington Post Greece – Dec. 09, 2019
In less than a year, Turkish President Erdogan hosted for the second time Prime Minister of the Government Ethnkis Agreement Libyan Fayez al Saratz in an attempt to give greater legitimacy to the Tripoli government under the shade of a civil war lasting almost a year opponent the army led by General Khalifa Haftar . At the end of this meeting, and without any preparations, Ankara announced the signing of a memorandum on maritime security and maritime borders between the two countries. This statement was a great shock to both Greece and Egyptthat are directly involved in this folder. The signed memorandum includes a map of maritime borders remodeling the entire eastern Mediterranean. Athens condemned the event and gave Libyus ambassador in Athens a deadline to produce the text of the memorandum, otherwise he would be deported, opera and sing. Cairo, on the other hand, condemned this step as an extension of other Turkish actions in Libya that the international community must urgently prevent. Despite the high tones of condemnation, Turkey goes on with this memorandum far from the language of the sheep adopted by the other sides. Here, I will try to explain the reasons why this step has now been taken, its legal background and ways to stop it.
In order to handle this dossier correctly, one must understand the situation in both Ankara and the Libyan region . The Turkish government, despite threats and promises from allied Kurdish militias in northeast Syria, is continuing its “Source of Peace ” operation to create a safe zone along the Syrian-Turkish border, with US-Russian consent. This has created a state of confidence on the Turkish scene, with the exception of over-the-counter sanctions or negligible impact on the supply of Russian S-400s. With this confidence Ankara felt the time was right to shake the waters of the eastern Mediterranean.
For the past three years, we have seen intensive action from Athens, Tel Aviv, Cairo and Nicosia towards delimiting their maritime borders. Of course, they ignored Turkey, which was in a weak internal, regional and international situation. For Turkey, it is time to return to the Eastern Mediterranean envelope. Its first step was to dispatch three gas exploration vessels to the Cyprus area , which became smoothly without problems. Then came the second step of signing the MoU with Libya.
In Libya, the domestic political scene is very complex. I’ll try to make it as understandable as possible. In short the scene involves a conflict between two sides. The former dominates the eastern and central parts of Libya, led by General Khalifa Haftar, with the support of the Libyan House of Representatives and internationally in France, Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Russia. The other side is the National Reconciliation Government, which controls parts of western Libya and the capital Tripoli and is internationally supported by Italy and Turkey. And to make it easier for the reader to understand,the conflict is based on who will have the biggest stake in Libya’s oil pie.
So, in fact, Turkey’s recent move a few days ago to write down the details of a memorandum of understanding by redesigning the maritime border between the two countries is the first step for them to follow and which may include the annexation of northern Cyprus, as well as movements in the Aegean Sea. To my mind, they brought in the Ankara Prime Minister of Libya, who they support financially, militarily and politically, to sign a white paper on which they wrote what they wanted.
Watching the statements of Greek officials and various analysts in recent days, they all looked like each other. They repeatedly talked about an illegal agreement because it ignores the existence of the Greek islands of Crete, Rhodes, etc., which cover a huge geographical area. However, this response is inadequate and confirms a great deal of ignorance of what is really happening in Libya in the last nine years.
The most important legal response to this memorandum is the presentation of the documents of the Skhirat agreement signed in Morocco on December 17, 2015, which was accepted by all Libyan political forces, namely the Tripoli government, the parliament and the general. Haftar. The agreement expressly stipulates that only the Libyan House of Representatives based in Tobruk exercises legislative power and oversees the executive and that the government cannot enter into international agreements and conventions unless ratified by it. The Memorandum between Ankara and Tripoli therefore has no legal force unless ratified by the Libyan Parliament.
It is clear that statements of condemnation by the Greek government, European governments or even the European Parliament were not capable of stopping Ankara from its recent excesses. Gas exploration moves in the eastern Mediterranean last summer are a good example. Athens, then, has to re-read the scene and adjust its strategy accordingly.
In politics one country is always faced with two options, there is no third. Either it will be the wolf, or it will be the sheep. Athena has adopted the policy of sheep in dealing with Turkey and Europe, in refugees, in hydrocarbons and in all dossiers over the past years. This policy has to change, otherwise the continuation will be more difficult and humiliating. Therefore, the real and effective response to the Turkish movement is to communicate directly with General Haftar and not only with the Libyan parliament, inviting him to Athens and then signing a memorandum of understanding that will lay the foundation for drawing up sea borders. between the two countries.Thus, the Ankara Memorandum will be ink on paper in front of the paper in Athens’ hands. This will be a loud message that will make it clear that any Turkish escalation will face the appropriate Greek escalation. An eye for an eye.
I hope that Greek officials have realized that the time has come for a new reading of the regional and international political scene. The protests in Paris and Berlin did not and will not stop Ankara. Only a solid policy based on the above will show Turkey its limits.