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'Turkey, Palestine should strike maritime deal similar to Libya'

May 18, 2021 at 7:42 pm

President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan holds up a map of Palestine as he speaks at the 74th session of UN General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York, United States on 24 September 2019. [Erçin Top – Anadolu Agency]

Turkey’s Yeni Safak newspaper yesterday called for Turkey to implement a maritime zone agreement by signing a deal with Palestine to get access to water and energy rights off Palestine territory.

According to report, Turkey should sign a maritime jurisdiction agreement with the besieged Gaza Strip, similar to the one it made with Libya to strengthen Palestinians’ hand in the international sphere and provide motivation for other countries to sign deals with them.

Gaza has been under a land, sea and air blockade by Israel for 14 years, while the Palestinian Naval Police’s activities are restricted to 11 kilometres from the enclave’s coast.

“By signing such an agreement, the Palestinian people would obtain control over a 10,200 square kilometer maritime zone, which would pave the way for them to utilize all the resources at sea,” Professor Cihat Yayci, a former Turkish navy rear admiral and head of the Maritime and Global Strategies Center at Bahcesehir University, told the Turkish Daily Sabah newspaper.

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He continued by noting that the deal would also allow Turkey to expand its maritime jurisdiction zone in the Mediterranean, spoiling Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration’s plans in the area.

“Countries have interests. Sometimes it is resources, sometimes oil, prestige or to look after the oppressed,” Yayci said, adding that Turkey’s sole motivation is to look after the oppressed. He noted that this is a reflection of the aims of the forefathers and is part of the country’s historical image.

According to Yayci, such a deal would also mark the first time Palestine signs an agreement with a world power and would significantly contribute to its formal international recognition and motivate the Palestinian Authority (PA) and other states to make deals.

In 2019, Turkey signed a maritime agreement with Libya through which Ankara aimed to reassert its maritime boundaries, angering Greece and Egypt in the process.