CW 40/2022: Uncertain outcome
Press Review 30 September 2022 to 7 October 2022

Libya signs energy exploration memorandum with Turkey

Last Monday, the Government of Turkey represented by the Ministers of Energy, Defence and Trade and the Libyan Government signed an agreement in Tripoli on the exploration of hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean. The agreement aims to lay the foundation for bilateral cooperations between the two countries in the hydrocarbons and oil industry and allows Turkey to explore in Libyan territorial waters as well as on Libyan soil. The memorandum thus builds on a maritime border agreement signed three years earlier by Turkey and the former UN-recognised government of Tripoli. The agreement at the time gave Turkey access to a disputed economic zone in the Eastern Mediterranean and hence the ability to assert rights over territory located there. The agreement, now signed on Monday, sparked diplomatic tensions at both regional and international levels, similar to the 2019 maritime border agreement. The parallel government in eastern Libya led by Fathi Bachahgha rejects the agreement and accuses the government led by Abduk Hamid Dbeibah in Tripoli of abusing its power. For several years, the two governments, based in the West and East of the country, have been fighting for political power. However, political leaders of the High Council of State from western Libya also spoke out against the agreement. They criticised its lack of transparency and warned of negative effects of the agreement on the domestic political situation and relations with Libya’s neighbouring countries. At the international level, the governments of Greece and Egypt issued a joint statement criticising the agreement. According to the statement, the government of Dbeibah is not authorised to enter into memoranda with third countries – a view that is for example also shared by the US. The EU took initial reports on the new agreement as an opportunity to reiterate its classification of the 2019 maritime border agreement, according to which it could not have any legal consequences because it violated the sovereign rights of third states. Accordingly, Greece and Egypt had also jointly opposed the agreement in 2019. In response, they concluded their own joint maritime boundary demarcation agreement in August 2020.

Ethiopian government and TPLF both agree to peace talks

On Wednesday, Ethiopia’s central government accepted an invitation from the African Union (AU) for peace talks on the civil war in the north of the country. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which had previously rejected the AU as a negotiating partner, also agreed to the invitation, according to a statement by TPLF chairman Debretsion Gebremichael on the same day. At first, it remained unclear at what level the parties to the conflict would conduct the talks, and the TPLF also demanded more information about guarantors and participants in the negotiations. In any case, the talks are to begin this weekend in South Africa under the leadership of AU Commission Chair Faki Mahamat. Former Nigerian President and AU envoy to the Horn of Africa Olusegun Obasanjo, ex-President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta, who has just left office, and former Vice-President of South Africa Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka are also expected to participate in the talks as facilitators. With the invitation to the peace talks, the AU wants to move closer to an end to the war that has now lasted almost two years. After a ceasefire lasting several months, fierce fighting has resumed in the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia since August. The war has already claimed thousands of victims and forced millions of people to flee. Human rights organisations complain of serious war crimes on both sides. In addition, there is a severe shortage of food, medicine and other aid supplies in Tigray. Only on Tuesday, shortly before both parties accepted the invitation, there was reportedly a deadly air attack by the central government on a school where refugees and aid organisations were sheltering. The talks now scheduled would be the first official negotiations since the war began.

In other news

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced last Friday that the 2025 Africa Cup will not take place in Guinea as planned. According to official information, the reason for the decision is Guinea’s lack of infrastructure for hosting the tournament; the country so far has only one of six necessary international stadiums. The decision was communicated to Guinea’s interim president Mamady Doumbouya personally by federation president Patrice Motsepe, who travelled to Guinea for the occasion. Doumbouya had previously expressed his desire to fulfil the hosting role by appointing a new organising committee in March to push ahead with the slow pace of infrastructure development. CAF’s Executive Committee will now decide to whom to reassign the tournament. According to Motsepe, there are ten interested candidates, including Algeria, Morocco, Nigeria and Senegal.

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