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Greece-Egypt Deal Undercuts Turkey-Libya Illegal Agreement

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Greek and Egyptian ministers sign an agreement defining the limits of jurisdiction and areas of responsibility for search and rescue between the two countries in the Mediterranean. Credit: Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Greece and Egypt signed an agreement on Tuesday in Cairo that effectively undercuts Turkey’s illegal deal with Libya.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation in the Fields of Aeronautics and Maritime Search & Rescue (SAR) was signed by Greece’s National Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos and Egypt’s Defence Minister Mohamed Zaki.

The agreement defines the limits of jurisdiction and areas of responsibility for search and rescue between Greece and Egypt, which are identified by the Flight Information Region (FIR) of Athens and Cairo, respectively.

FIR s a specified region of airspace in which a flight information service and an alerting service (ALRS) are provided. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) delegates which country is responsible for the operational control of a given FIR.

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Turkey disputes the limits of the Athens FIR while the sea area agreed upon on Tuesday covers that defined by the illegal Turkish-Libyan memorandum.

The signed agreement is “in contrast to the so-called ‘cooperation memoranda’ between Turkey and the government of Tripoli, which constitute illegal, delinquent, invalid and destabilizing behaviors,” Panagiotopoulos said.

On October 3rd, Turkey signed a preliminary agreement with Libya’s Tripoli GNA government to explore for oil and gas off the Libyan coast without specifying whether the surveys would take place in waters south of Greece, where Athens says the Turks have no right to be.

Greece and Egypt divide the Mediterranean for search and rescue operations

The signing was attended by Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias and Alternate Foreign Affairs Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis.

In statements after the signing, Dendias said that the agreement aims to save human lives that are in danger at sea through the cooperation of the two countries’ authorities.

Furthermore, he underlined that the agreement proves once again that the Mediterranean is not now nor ever was a barrier between Europe, Asia, and Africa. “It is a bridge between the peoples of these three continents,” he added.

Greece and Egypt continue to work together based on this philosophy, he noted, “setting an example to other Mediterranean countries.”

The Greek foreign minister also met with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry “in the context of our regular contacts and a common approach on a wide range of issues,” Dendias tweeted.

They discussed “the long-standing Greece-Egypt strategic relations, developments in Eastern Mediterranean, Libya and the Middle East.”

In Cairo, Varvitsiotis signed an agreement with the Egyptian Foreign Affairs Ministry’s Ambassador for European Affairs Ihab Nasr on the employment of five thousand seasonal workers in the agricultural sector, a signing event also attended by Dendias.

Related: Turkey and Egypt Rekindle Relations After 9-Year Rift

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