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Greece and Libya – Burying the Hatchet?

Greece and Libya have a history of ups and downs in their bilateral relationships. The cordial relationship hit a rough patch when the Government of National Accord, Libya signed a Memorandum with Turkey in 2019. Greece did not take the accord in light spirit since it aimed at promoting Exclusive Economic Zones in the Mediterranean Sea . That was not acceptable to many other countries including Greece and was considered illegal. This Treaty was believed to be against the Law of the Sea as it did not take into account the presence of any other states like the Greek Islands. Thus began the bitterness between Greece and Libya since the former was not on best terms with Turkey as well.

After years of enmity, the Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis yesterday stated that the two countries were looking forward to holding talks to define their maritime outlines. On 14 April 2021, the two leaders met and agreed upon the immediate need of maritime definitions to overcome the tension that had been curtailing the relationship between the two nations.

The maritime zones within the Mediterranean Sea have caused conflicts between Greece, Turkey, Libya and Egypt in the past due to the interests in energy and resources. The 2019 agreement between Turkey and Libya was accused of being illegal as it was finalised without keeping the other stakeholders in the loop. Thus, the recent advance from Greece and Libya is a sign of eagerness to pacify the tensions. However, Turkey has high stakes in the region too. The European Union had frozen the assets and banned travelled for Turkish citizens and plans to impose more sanctions against Turkey due to the drilling exercise that it carried out in the eastern Mediterranean.

The decision to proceed with talks holds relevance at the moment. After the Brexit, the European Union could benefit from a gracious gesture like the one initiated by Libya and Turkey. It also clarifies the situation about the rights in the Mediterranean Sea and will eventually set the boundaries for the respect of the Law of the Sea. Maritime Security is one of the highlights in the international security at the moment. This agreement might help ease out the tension in one of the regions.