A court in Libya has suspended the deal for offshore oil and gas exploration, which Libya and Turkey made the agreement last year.

The deal, which had sparked outrage from neighbors Egypt and Greece, concerned controversial waters that Libya and Turkey had declared to be theirs but that are disputed by Egypt and Greece.

Reuters said in a report yesterday that the Libyan government can however appeal the ruling. Greece’s Permanent Representative at the UN, Maria Theofili has been reported to have described the deal as one “violating the sovereign rights of Greece”.

Theofili also said the deal is “a violation of international law and a deliberate escalation that undermines stability in the region.”

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Signed in October last year, the deal followed an earlier, security agreement, inked in 2019, that demarcated the maritime border between Libya and Turkey; the same demarcation that angered Egypt and Greece.

“We’ve signed a memorandum of understanding on exploration for hydrocarbons in Libya’s territorial waters and on Libyan soil, by mixed Turkish-Libyan companies,” the foreign minister of Turkey, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said at the time, as quoted by the AFP.

The official noted, then, that the deal is only between Libya and Turkey, “two sovereign countries — it’s win-win for both, and other countries have no right to interfere”.

The eastern Mediterranean was put in the spotlight by a series of large gas discoveries off the coast of Israel in the past decade or so, as well as discoveries in Turkish and Cypriot waters.

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Europe is looking for new sources of gas. At the same time, the events around the deal with Turkey had contributed to the deterioration of the internal political situation in Libya, as Ankara signed its deals with the Government of National Unity—the entity recognized by the UN but not by rival political factions in Libya itself.

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