France, Greece, Egypt and Cyprus declared “null and void” agreements between Ankara and Libya assigning Turkey maritime rights that encroaches on other eastern Mediterranean states.
Turkey was also “strongly condemned” for continued drilling in the exclusive economic zone and territorial waters of the Republic of Cyprus, calling on Ankara to “immediately cease all illegal exploration activities”.
A statement issued by the foreign ministers of the four countries — who met in Cairo — said the controversial maritime and security agreements undermined regional stability and urged Turkey to “act responsibly”.
Their Italian counterpart, who also took part in the meeting, did not sign the statement.
The two agreements denounced by the four Mediterranean states are a military pact and an “unlawful” maritime deal, signed in November by the head of Libya’s Government of National Accord Fayez al-Sarraj and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Ministers underlined “that these memorandums have further undermined regional stability and are both considered null and void.”
Ankara is a key ally of the GNA in its fight against eastern Libya based strongman Khalifa Haftar.
It is the maritime delimitation agreement that has outraged Greece, Egypt and Cyprus, awarding Turkey exploration rights in a gas-rich area of the Mediterranean where the three states also have significant interests.
The agreement “infringes upon the sovereign rights of third states, does not comply with the law of the sea” and does not have legal enforceability, the ministers said in their statement.
The ministers “reiterated the necessity of full respect of the sovereignty and the sovereign rights of all states in their maritime zones in the Mediterranean.”
They voiced “their determination to undertake additional joint efforts in order to face increasing challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean region, at the foremost of which are armed conflict, terrorism and irregular migration.”
“The Turkey-Libya Memorandum of Understanding purporting to delimit maritime jurisdictions in the Mediterranean Sea infringes upon the sovereign rights of third States does not comply with the Law of the Sea and cannot produce any legal consequences.”
The Ministers deemed the security memorandum and any decision to send troops to Libya to be a serious violation of UN Security Council resolutions and called for an immediate de-escalation.”
They “expect Turkey to act responsibly and emphasize the necessity for the countries of the Mediterranean basin to cooperate in goodwill and constructively to guarantee the security and stability of the Mediterranean on the basis of international law.”
Libya has seen a recent escalation of the turmoil that has gripped the oil-rich country since a NATO-backed uprising killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011, with Haftar trying to capture Tripoli from the UN-recognised government.
On Wednesday, Erdogan announced that Turkey has deployed 35 soldiers to Libya to support the GNA in a non-fighting capacity against Haftar, who is supported by Ankara’s rivals the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.
Ministers agreed “to continue their consultations and to convene their next meeting in Crete, Greece, at a date to be agreed.”
Cyprus Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides said Wednesday’s meeting in Cairo was exceptionally important, noting that the main aim was to create conditions of security and cooperation in the Middle East, without exclusions.
“There is a clear position on the Turkish violations in the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus, since such actions, either in the EEZ of the Republic of Cyprus or in Syria, or with what is happening in Libya, only lead to destabilisation in the region.”