By Sameer Salha, Turkish writer and researcher
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres ratified at the end of last month (September), the memorandum of understanding signed nine months ago (last November), between Turkey and Libya, regarding delineating the areas of maritime jurisdiction of the two countries in the eastern Mediterranean, in accordance with Article 102 of the United Nations Charter.
The United Nations’ registration of the agreement, at a Turkish request, means that the UN organization did not take into account the objection verbal note submitted to Guterres' office in July, by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Greece and Greek Cyprus, confirming that the agreement is not without legal effect as it was said and it can be registered in the UN body, adding that it accepted the legal personality of the both parties (Turkish and Libyan), and their right to conclude an agreement of this kind.
Emphasizing that the General Secretariat said the opposite of what was said and demanded by the Speaker of the Libyan Parliament, Agilah Saleh, in an official letter, in which he calls for not registering the Memorandum of Understanding, under the pretext that it conflicts with the Libyan Political Agreement, Skhirat, signed in 2015.
And that the agreement is not an infringement on the rights of the riparian states in the Mediterranean, or the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, clarifying that with the United Nations acceptance of the agreement, all legal provisions related to the delimitation of the maritime borders in the eastern Mediterranean region between Turkey and Libya are accepted.
This registration also means, according to the United Nations Secretariat, that the agreement enshrines Turkey and Libya's legal rights in the Eastern Mediterranean, in terms of concluding agreements and protecting their water rights.
The Turkish-Libyan agreement is considered a strategic breakthrough for the two countries in the exclusive economic zone that binds them together, and it will increase the area of the continental shelf belonging to them significantly.
With the acceptance of the registration of the Turkish-Libyan agreement in the United Nations, Ankara has foiled all attempts to obstruct the Turkish-Libyan understanding, and obligated many to respect the Turkish and Libyan legitimate rights in the Mediterranean, and contributed to consecrating their sitting in front of any dialogue table, discussing the sharing of gas in the maritime region of the Eastern Mediterranean, And it got a historic opportunity to cut off the road to attempts to isolate, weaken, and marginalize their role there, and dropped the dream of the regional alignment led by France, Egypt, Greece, the UAE and Israel against Turkey, and the most important thing will be to open the way to the calls of the Turkish President, Erdogan, to involve all riparian countries in taking advantage of plans to demarcate the maritime borders, and to share the benefits of the invading region in a fair and equitable manner, Instead of the show that emerged between some capitals, to impose itself on the rest of the parties.
The Turkish-Libyan agreement linked Turkey's interests in the Mediterranean and the South of the Caspian, as the energy transmission lines are being prepared in coordination with Russia, Germany and Azerbaijan, which means building a new Turkish strategic equation in front of lines that intersect interests between USA, Russia and China, it also guarantees the right of Turkey and Libya to participate in drawing up the policies of the Eastern Mediterranean.
By this agreement, Turkey and Libya spoiled all the scenarios that were being prepared at their expense, and they succeeded in imposing themselves on the scene as regional players. Reaching this conclusion is linked to the extent of the attempts to bring it down and thwart it and the mobilization efforts that accompanied it, even by countries that are not directly concerned with the issue, such as the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and France.
Some parties inside Libya are trying to escalate against the agreement, and raising its illegality through the parliament.
The registration of the agreement is not less important than its content and strategic provisions for Turkey and Libya, but its most prominent results are the recognition of the right of the Government of National Accord in Tripoli to conclude such agreements, as long as its aim is to protect the interests of Libya and its people. The agreement registration is a new right opportunity for all experts and politicians who have gambled on the impossibility of accepting it, including Arab and European capitals, such as Cairo and Paris.
Voices in Cairo were attacking Al-Sarraj and Erdogan agreement and inciting against the Chairman of the Government saying that he "placed the Libyan Constitutional Declaration under his shoes, since the Tripoli government is nothing more than a circumstantial government to confront exceptional circumstances and conduct daily life activities, drumming all the time, and that the United Nations will reject the Turkish request, for its contradiction with Chapter Seven of the United Nations Charter, which endangers international peace and security.
The same voices are back again to simplify what happened, marginalize and ignore it, describing it as a formal procedure, without value or legitimacy, because the agreement is null and void, and because the registration does not imply the validity of the agreement or establish any obligation on a third country, and its acceptance would be a political gesture that is being exploited by Al-Sarraj And Erdogan.
As for Paris, it tried to drag the European Union towards declaring that the agreement violates the sovereign rights of the three surrounding countries in that region, and that it is inconsistent with the law of the sea, and that it does not lead to binding legal consequences for other countries, as if Brussels is the source of legislation, legal theorizing, and defining powers, rights and responsibilities in the world.
“Egypt rejected Erdogan's pleas”, an Egyptian international law professor said a few days ago, but the United Nations rejected the pleas of Egypt and its four allies to cancel the Turkish-Libyan maritime border demarcation agreement!! Which is stronger politically and legally, the allegations and conclusions of political solicitation, or the United Nations’ legal adoption of the Ankara and Tripoli understandings and their dedication and confirmation?!
Turkey and Libya guarantee their right to participate in drawing up the policies of the Eastern Mediterranean by their agreement
No matter how some of them sought to mitigate the repercussions of the UN move, it has made the Turkish-Libyan agreement a strategic breakthrough for the two countries in the exclusive economic zone that binds them together, and it will increase the area of the continental shelf belonging to them significantly, it will also drop the Greek plan to dominate the wider area by playing the card of Crete island and Greek Cyprus, and will oblige the rest of the riparian parties to remember the rights of the Turkish Cypriots and the Gaza Strip, and not to take any decisions at the expense of Lebanon and Syria.
However, it is surprising that the Saudi, Emirati, and Bahraini moves in the eastern Mediterranean to object to an agreement signed by an Arab country that protects its interests and water shares in the face of Greece, Israel and Greek Cyprus.
Some of them inside Libya, are trying to escalate against the agreement, and raising its illegality through the parliament.
Does this agreement protect Libya's interests in the eastern Mediterranean, give it its maritime rights, and strengthen it in its future negotiations with the rest of the riparian countries, especially with the existence of maritime disputes between Italy and Malta?
The discussions of the Turkish-Libyan agreement in Egypt will help the eastern leaderships in Libya to determine their positions, perhaps.
Arab media recently published a document leaked from the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, recommending not signing the maritime border demarcation agreement with Greece, because it harms Egypt's interests, reduces a large area of its maritime borders, and prevents it from signing a future agreement with Turkey.
As the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry said that “the agreement between Turkey and Libya does not affect the interests of Egypt”, so what will it do? And to whom will it give priority? Will it give it to its new regional alliance with Greece, Israel and France at the expense of the rest of the riparian countries, even if they are from the same house?!!
The card once again in the court of Egypt and the eastern Libya leaderships, on monitoring what is going on and drawing policies on it.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect those of The Libya Observer