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Greece Says Wants to Be Included in UN Peace Talks on Libya

Greece Says Wants to Be Included in UN Peace Talks on Libya

Sunday, 29 December, 2019 - 10:45
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. (Reuters)

Greece wants to be included in UN-sponsored talks in January on the Libya conflict, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Sunday, as tensions escalate with neighbors Turkey over the issue.

"We do not want a source of instability in our neighborhood. Therefore we want a say in developments in Libya," he told To Vima weekly in an interview.

"We want to be part of the solution in Libya, as it concerns us too," he said.

Libya has become another diplomatic front for Greece and Turkey as the traditional rivals jostle over Mediterranean maritime rights and the competing camps in the North African country's conflict.

The UN has said an international conference will be held next month in Berlin to pave the way for a political solution to Libya's ongoing conflict.

Libya has been beset by chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime ruler Moammar Gaddafi in 2011, with rival administrations in the east and the west vying for power.

"I have requested, and will do so again with greater insistence, that we participate in the Berlin process," Mitsotakis said.

In November, Ankara signed a contentious maritime and military deal with the embattled Government of National Accord in Tripoli.

Greece immediately rejected it as baseless, arguing that Turkey and Libya share no maritime border.

"(Libya) is our natural maritime neighbor, not Turkey's," Mitsotakis said on Sunday.

He said his intention is for Greece and Turkey to discuss their differences about maritime zones in the Aegean and east Mediterranean on a political and diplomatic level.

“But we should say clearly that if we can’t find a solution then we should agree that the one difference that Greece recognizes (over maritime zones) must be judged in an international body like the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in Hague.”

The Turkish deal lays claim to much of the Mediterranean for energy exploration, conflicting with rival claims by Greece and Cyprus.

Greece and Cyprus, which have long had maritime and territorial disputes with Turkey, say the accord is void and violates the international law of the sea. They see it as a cynical resource-grab designed to scupper the development of East Mediterranean gas and destabilize rivals.

Earlier in December, Cyprus petitioned the ICJ to safeguard its offshore mineral rights. There has been no response so far from Turkey to that initiative. The ICJ has the power to issue binding decisions.

Cyprus’s internationally recognized government discovered offshore gas in 2011 but has been at loggerheads with Turkey over maritime zones around the island, where it has granted licenses to multinational companies for oil and gas research.

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