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Egypt Says GNA, Turkey Agreement Deepens Libyan Crisis

Egypt Says GNA, Turkey Agreement Deepens Libyan Crisis

Wednesday, 4 December, 2019 - 08:00
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. (Reuters)

Egypt slammed on Monday the maritime and security cooperation deal signed between Turkey and Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA), saying it will deepen the crisis and obstruct the political process in Libya.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry stressed in a telephone call with United Nations envoy to Libya the need to safeguard the political process, adding that GNA chief Fayez al-Sarraj does not have the mandate to sign such an agreement.

The minister later received in Cairo Libyan deputy parliament speaker Fathi al-Majbari to discuss the latest developments in Libya and the current divisions within the Presidential Council.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said Shoukri underlined to his guest Egypt’s keenness on preserving Libya’s unity.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan defended the agreement he signed last week with Sarraj, saying the issue was not up for discussion with any party.

The deal had drawn criticism from Egypt, Cyprus, Greece and the European Union.

Erdogan said these countries’ objection will not affect the deal, saying it was a “sovereign right” to Turkey and Libya.

He added that the agreement will likely be approved by Turkish parliament and come into force.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias threatened earlier this week to expel the Libyan ambassador to Athens if he did not disclose details of the deal.

Shoukry had received Dendias in Cairo on Sunday to discuss the agreement.

“We agreed that that Mr. Sarraj most likely lacks the mandate to sign (two agreements with Turkey), which anyway function as destabilizing factors in the area,” Dendias said after the meeting. “We also agreed with (Shoukry) to accelerate talks between teams of experts to define and delineate Exclusive Economic Zones between Greece and Egypt,” Dendias added.

The Turkey-GNA deal added tension to an ongoing dispute with Greece, Cyprus and Egypt over oil-and-gas drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey does not recognize Cyprus as a state — but does recognize the breakaway Turkish Cypriot entity, the only country to do so — and is conducting exploratory gas drilling in waters where the ethnically divided island nation has exclusive economic rights.

Ankara says it is defending its rights and those of the Turkish Cypriots to regional energy reserves.

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