EU leaders to rebuff Turkey-Libya maritime accord

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European Union leaders are expected to back Cyprus and Greece in rejecting a maritime delimitation deal between Turkey and Libya as a violation of international law.

The European Council will stand with Nicosia and Athens in opposing the MoU, according to a draft statement seen by Reuters.

Greece last week expelled the Libyan ambassador in response to the agreement, infuriated at a pact which skirts the Greek island of Crete and infringes, in Athens’s view, its continental shelf.

“The Turkey-Libya memorandum of understanding on the delimitation of maritime jurisdictions in the Mediterranean Sea infringes upon the sovereign rights of third States (and) does not comply with the (U.N.) Law of the Sea,” EU leaders will say, according to the draft statement prepared for a two-day summit from Thursday.

The deal between Ankara and Tripoli carves out a slanting sea corridor of maritime boundaries at the closest points between Libya and Turkey, potentially clearing the way for oil and gas search there.

“The European Council unequivocally reaffirms its solidarity with Greece and Cyprus regarding these actions by Turkey,” the draft said.

Greece has lodged its objections to the United Nations over the accord between Libya and Turkey, saying the pact could affect the implementation of the Libyan agreement brokered by the UN in 2015 to end years of fighting in the North African country.

A row over eastern Mediterranean gas reserves offshore has become increasingly tense with countries in the region jostling to stake their claims.

Turkey faces EU sanctions for sending drilling vessels inside Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone.