The US State Department condemned on Tuesday the recently signed maritime deal between Libya and Turkey as “counterproductive and provocative”.
Replying to a question by the Athens-Macedonia News Agency (AMNA), a State Department spokesman said that Turkish claims are contrary to international law, which states that the islands have same rights regarding the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the continental shelf as any land territory.
“Greece has overlapping maritime claims in the area addressed by Turkey-Libya memorandum, contrary to what Turkey has suggested, under international law (Law of Sea). Islands are generally entitled to EEZ and continental shelf to same extent as any land territory,” the spokesman was quoted as saying.
He also noted that “decisions that do not take into account the interests of all States concerned are provocative.”
He added that although the US does not generally take a position on maritime disputes in other states, in this case it urges all parties involved to avoid any action that risks escalating tensions over a period of time in the eastern Mediterranean.
“As a firm policy, we encourage states to settle their disputes peacefully under international law.”
The spokesman said that “foreign countries that have fueled the conflict should withdraw their forces from Libya, now,” adding, “Countries that purport to support Libya’s stability should immediately withdraw their forces, including Russian mercenaries and Turkish-sponsored Syrian fighters.”
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had raised the issue with President Donald Trump at their meeting in the White House last week. He noted that the Turkey-Libya agreement only causes destabilization, and stressed that Greece expects the US’ support on the matter, adding that his country is an ally the US can rely on.
Stepping up American support, the United States Ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey Pyatt, said the deal between Libya and Turkey was “unproductive and provocative.”
Pyatt said that the inhabited Greek islands are on the same footing as the mainland coastline in the delineation of marine zones, responding to questions from reporters about the agreement which saw Turkey claim waters near Greek islands without recognizing them.