December 12, 2019 / 10:15 AM / a month ago

Turkey sends Libya maritime accord to U.N. for approval: source

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey on Thursday sent its accord with Libya on a maritime boundary between the two countries to the United Nations for approval, a Turkish diplomatic source said, despite objections from Greece that the agreement violates international law.

Two weeks ago, Libya’s internationally recognized government and Turkey signed the maritime delimitation agreement, in a move that escalated disputes over potential offshore gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey says the accord aims to protect its rights and is in line with international law. President Tayyip Erdogan said that the accord will allow Turkey and Libya to hold joint exploration operations in the region.

Infuriated by the pact, Greece accused Libya’s government of deception and expelled the Libyan ambassador to Athens. It also said it had lodged objections with the United Nations, saying the accord violated international law.

Tensions were already running high between Greece and Turkey because of Turkish gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean off the coast of the divided island of Cyprus. The NATO members are also at odds over mineral rights in the Aegean Sea.

The European Union has readied sanctions against Turkey in response to its actions around Cyprus, which was split in a 1974 Turkish invasion following a Greek-inspired coup. Peace talks on the island have been in limbo since U.N.-led efforts collapsed in 2017.

Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Dominic Evans and Andrew Heavens

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