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Greece Foreign Minister on Results of Libya Visit

Greece foreign minister Dendias
Greece Foreign Minister on Libya diplomatic spat: “Well, this cannot happen.” Nikos Dendias, Greek FM. Credit: Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias discussed the results of his visit to Libya earlier this week in an interview released on Saturday.

Greece and Libya clashed on Thursday following the last-minute cancelation of the Greek foreign minister’s Tripoli part of the visit.

The Greek official had refused to disembark from the plane at the Tripoli airport when he realized that waiting to greet him on the tarmac was the foreign minister of the Libyan caretaker government, Najla Al-Mangoush, who signed the Turkish-Libyan oil and gas exploration deal a few weeks earlier.

In an interview with the Greek newspaper Ta Nea, Dendias explained that the stop had been agreed upon as a personal favor to the Chairman of Libya’s Presidential Council, Mohamed al-Menfi, on the strict condition that there would be no contact with the transitional government.

“We were going to go, see him and leave,” Dendias said, adding that the appearance at the airport of Al-Mangoush meant that the agreement was not kept.

Greece and Libya relations

Greece’s relations with Libya “will remain as they are, on our part,” the Greek foreign minister told the newspaper.

However, Dendias highlighted the UN’s position that the Libyan caretaker government is not authorised to sign international agreements, such as the energy agreement with Turkey.

“They say that this government must hold elections,” he stated. “And not only does it not hold elections, but it takes advantage of its continued presence, exploits Libya’s resources at will and signs [agreements] with the Turks. Well, this cannot happen.”

Following the developments at the Tripoli airport, Dendias took off to Benghazi, where he met with Eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar, Libyan House Speaker Aguia Saleh Issa, and Heads of Committees of the Libyan House of Representatives.

According to the Greek official, the purpose of the visit was to try to maintain a strong relationship with Eastern Libya, and, therefore, with the Parliament as “a body that lends strength to Greece’s position against the acceptance and agreement of illegal agreements with the Turks.”

Greece an indispensable partner, says US State Department

Vedant Patel, the US State Department’s principal deputy spokesperson, was asked on Friday by a Turkish reporter for Washington’s reaction concerning the refusal of Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias to meet with the foreign minister of the Libyan transitional government. He was also questioned about Dendias’ subsequent travel to Benghazi to meet with Haftar.

Patel replied that he had not seen reporting on this specific incident and had no specific reaction to offer but noted that the U.S. view Greece as an indispensable partner and a key NATO ally.

“Greece plays a critical role in defending NATO’s southeastern flank,” Patel pointed out. “And today, together, the U.S. and Greece are advancing our shared goals for not just their immediate region but for Europe more broadly.”

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