Greece announces agreement to demarcate maritime borders with Egypt

Nikolaos Garilidis. (Photo/Twitter)
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Updated 19 July 2020

Greece announces agreement to demarcate maritime borders with Egypt

  • Maj. Gen. Samir Farag: The agreement signed between Turkey and the GNA was invalid because the Libyan parliament did not approve it, and the agreement did not respect UN law on territorial waters

CAIRO: Greece’s Ambassador to Egypt Nikolaos Garilidis has said that Athens and Cairo are on the verge of signing an agreement on maritime borders.

In an interview with a Greek newspaper, Garilidis said that Turkey, which last year signed a controversial maritime demarcation deal with the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Libya, “would not like” the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) demarcation agreement between Greece and Egypt.

“It is up to Turkey to maintain good relations with its neighbors. If Turkey leaves its Ottoman ideas behind, Greece could support its participation in economic cooperation plans,” Garilidis said.

The near accord comes at a time when Turkey is seeking a foothold in Libya to control its oil and to be strategically placed in the disputed Mediterranean gas region.

Maj. Gen. Samir Farag, an Egyptian strategic expert, said that the move to demarcate the maritime borders between Egypt and Greece was expected. “What recently happened in the demarcation of the borders between Rome and Athens completely eliminates the legality of the maritime memorandum of understanding between Turkey and the Libyan Al-Wefaq militia” headed by GNA Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj, he said.

Farag added that the agreement signed between Turkey and the GNA was invalid because the Libyan parliament did not approve it, and the agreement did not respect UN law on territorial waters.

“When demarcating the borders between Cairo and Athens is completed, all the countries of the region will have drawn up their maritime orders in accordance with international laws, and therefore the Turkish side will have no legitimacy for research and exploration in the Mediterranean gas region,” he said.

Tarek El-Khouly, secretary of the foreign relations committee of the Egyptian Parliament, confirmed that the Egyptian-Greek move to demarcate maritime borders guaranteed the economic rights of the eastern Mediterranean countries and prevented Turkey from stealing the rights of the region’s countries.

El-Khouly added that the move would guarantee, according to international law, the economic rights of Egypt, Greece and other countries in the eastern Mediterranean “as opposed to the goal of the Erdogan regime.”

“(The demarcation of the maritime borders) is part of the international community’s position in its responsibilities to act against Turkish practices that have broken all the rules of international law, as it tries to impose things by force and dismisses the differences between what is right and wrong,” he said.

Mahmoud Attia, a member of the energy committee of the Egyptian Parliament, said that the demarcation of the borders with Greece had many economic benefits, stressing the need for Egypt to set the boundaries for its borders to ensure its rights and the rights of neighboring countries.

Attia described the timing of the border demarcation talks between Egypt and Greece as ideal in light of the current situation and Turkey’s ambitions in the region.

“This step was supposed to happen long ago, but unfortunately it did not take place, and the matter is being rectified at the present time,” Attia said.

A member of the energy committee in parliament confirmed that the border demarcation talks are a response to events taking place in the region.


Lebanon’s foreign minister resigns amid economic crisis

Updated 03 August 2020

Lebanon’s foreign minister resigns amid economic crisis

  • Nassif Hitti submits resignation to the prime minister and leaves government house without making any comments
  • Hitti’s resignation is a blow to Hassan Diab’s government

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s foreign minister resigned on Monday, becoming the first Cabinet minister to defect from his post amid the severe economic and financial crisis striking the country.
Minister Nassif Hitti’s submitted his resignation to the prime minister and left the government house without making any comments.
A career diplomat, Hitti became foreign minister in January as part of Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s government. He was was reportedly unhappy with the government’s performance and lack of movement on promised reforms.
Local media reports said he also was angered by Diab’s criticism of French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian following his visit to Beirut last month. Diab had said Le Drian “did not bring anything new” and was not properly informed about the reforms implemented by the Lebanese government.
It was not immediately clear whether his resignation would be accepted and whether one of the other ministers would assume his responsibilities in caretaker capacity until a new minister is appointed.
Hitti’s resignation is a blow to Diab’s government, which has struggled to implement reforms amid an unprecedented financial crisis and the coronavirus pandemic.