Greece and Libya have agreed to hold talks on marking out their maritime zones in the Mediterranean, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Wednesday.
In a statement after meeting in Athens the president of the Libyan Presidential Council, Mohamed al-Menfi, Mitsotakis said the two leaders “agreed on the immediate resumption of talks between Greece and Libya on the delimitation of the maritime zones.”
Greece is piling on pressure on the interim government of Libya to scrap the 2019 agreement with Turkey on maritime zones.
In his first official visit to Tripoli earier in the month, Mitsotakis called on Libya to annul the deal. “It is very important (for bilateral relations), the annulment of illegal documents,” he had said.
In Wednesday’s meeting with al-Menfi, Mitsotakis also stressed that a prerequisite for holding elections so that “the Libyan people themselves can take the country’s fate into their own hands” is the withdrawal of all troops from Libya.
Also – according to Greek government officials – the prospects for expanding economic relations were discussed, which will be the main focus of a visit by Deputy Foreign Minister Kostas Fragogiannis to Libya, while emphasis was also placed on cooperation in the field of culture.
Greece vows to reset relations with Libya
Mitsotakis said Athens aimed to reset relations with Libya, which were soured by the Tripoli government’s signing a maritime boundary accord in 2019 with Turkey, Greece’s regional rival.
The issue has fed into tensions between Athens and Ankara over territorial and energy issues in the eastern Mediterranean that brought the two NATO allies close to armed conflict last year.
On Monday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey and Libya were committed to the 2019 accord after talks with Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibeh in Ankara.
That accord, which prompted Greece to expel the Libyan ambassador at the time, mapped out a sea boundary between Turkey and Libya close to the Greek island of Crete. Athens has said it has no legal force and must be cancelled.
“Greece is back” in Libya
On Monday, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias inaugurated a new era for Greek-Libyan relations as he vowed Greece “is back” in Libya during his official visit to the north African country.
Speaking at the Greek Community Center in Benghazi, where he participated in the opening of the Greek consulate, Dendias gave his country’s promise of support.
“What I can promise to the society of Benghazi is that Greece is coming back. Coming back to help as much as we can. With our people, with our membership of the European Union, and we wish to retain our friendship with Libya and help Libya go forward and become a prosperous and stable country,” he stated.