How to redeem our support for Ukraine

How to redeem our support for Ukraine

Libyan forces take part in a military parade in the city of Misrata on August 9. It is questionable whether a regular, legitimate Libyan government would want to cancel a very beneficial deal like the one with Turkey this time and replace it with another with Greece, says the author. [Yousef Murad/AP]

Turkey has been trying since 2019 to give substance to its “Blue Homeland” (Mavi vatan) concept and consolidate it with a set of accompaniments, knowing that neighboring countries and outside forces are very unlikely to support it.

But Turkey, taking advantage of the weakness and almost desperate position of successive Libyan governments, the civil war and their need to survive in a highly unstable environment, acted decisively, offering economic, military and diplomatic support to steer them to victory against all odds help With the strategic advantage of international recognition and citing the emergency situation, the Tripoli-based governments struck a series of agreements, including delimitation of sea jurisdictions and recently an interim agreement that provided drilling permits for Turkey’s state-owned oil company TPAO on land and at sea . The agreements were signed against the will of the Benghazi-based parliament, which declared them null and void without being able to stop their implementation.

Two agreements that directly violate our sovereign rights, both those established by the Egyptian-Greek agreement on the delimitation of maritime exclusive economic zones and potential ones, therefore remain on the table. This allows Turkey to exercise its “rights” stemming from the tenuous 2019 demarcation deal with the Tripoli government, posing a major challenge for Greece.

Since our own influence on the Tripoli government is close to zero and Turkey’s is proving to be lasting and particularly effective, our main hope is that the Libyan elections will bring about a change of government. However, given the postponement of the elections and the current situation, it is not known when and under what circumstances the elections will take place. Greece has inevitably put its eggs in a basket occupied by the rival Benghazi faction in hopes that the next Libyan leader will come from there. But even if that were to happen, it is doubtful whether a regular, legitimate government would cancel a deal as beneficial as the one with Turkey and replace it with another, this time with Greece.

Since we cannot appeal to the current Libyan government, we must mobilize those of our partners who have influence in Tripoli to put pressure on the government to change course. Given the Tripoli government’s dependence on Turkey, this is a very difficult prospect. Given the unconditional support we have given Ukraine in its war with Russia, now is the time to make amends by urging the United States to go beyond verbal condemnation of the deals. What is certain is that Ankara will insist on their implementation; The US must do everything possible to prevent this and also encourage the Libyans to take the case to the International Court of Justice in The Hague in agreement with Greece.

We must mobilize those of our partners who have influence in Tripoli to put pressure on the government to change its dealings with Turkey

If this seems unlikely, I would remind you that a few months ago the government of Tripoli had sounded out Greece, through third parties, whether it could take legal action before the court in The Hague because of the still undemarcated sea areas. Greece had rightly rejected the overture; Our main argument was that regional stability must be based on legal agreements and the settlement of demarcation disputes through dialogue. Greece would be willing to accept arbitration in The Hague to resolve legal issues arising from overlapping agreements between Egypt and Greece and Libya and Turkey. We definitely need to prepare the ground for an agreement, ideally with a legitimate, properly elected government. We must exploit the fact that no regional power, and certainly not most of the West, wants Turkey to impose its will on the region through illegal actions, especially with the looming war in Ukraine. Therefore, we should ask the US to extend its “red lines” towards Turkey beyond the Aegean to the Libyan question as a reward for our stance on Ukraine; we would have Egypt and Israel on our side.

Operationally, our ability to prevent Turkish reconnaissance is limited and will not deter Ankara, which will also invoke Libya’s invitation to reconnaissance. So we must move decisively, first activating the 2011 law that de facto defined the boundaries of our continental shelf by including Crete (Turkey claims that islands cannot have a continental shelf). At the same time, we should start exploring south of Crete to determine our oil and natural gas reserves. We should not think that Libya will refrain from transmitting coordinates of its claimed maritime sovereignty to the United Nations; Without recourse to The Hague, such actions are inevitable.

Although expanding our territorial waters south of Crete to 12 nautical miles from the current 6 nautical miles seems risky, given Turkey’s threat that such a move would be grounds for war, it is necessary for two reasons: to prevent such “exploration”. of the research vessel Oruc Reis off Kastellorizo, in the zone between 6 and 12 nautical miles offshore, and to increase the costs for Turkey through an escalating expansion of the coastal zone.

We share responsibility for the current situation because we have not developed a timely strategy to expand our territorial waters, we have not activated our own hydrocarbon exploration program – we have not drilled a single exploratory well since 2011 – and we have not signed a delimitation agreement with Libya, though we have negotiated since 2005.

Constantinos Filis is Director of the Institute of International Affairs and Associate Professor at the American College of Greece. The Future of History edited by Professor Filis is available from Papadopoulos Publications.

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