The Greek foreign minister, who was due to visit Tripoli on Thursday, refused to leave the plane when he arrived at the airport to avoid being greeted by his counterpart in the disputed Libyan government in Athens, official sources said.
As per protocol, Libyan diplomatic chief Najla al-Mangouch was at the base of the plane to welcome his Greek counterpart, Nicos Dentias, the Libyan Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
But Mr. Tendias “refused to get off the plane before departure without any explanation”, the ministry added, condemning the gesture and vowing to respond with “appropriate diplomatic measures”.
These actions were not long in coming. Mohamed Hamouda, a spokesman for the Libyan government in Tripoli, told local channel Al-Ahrar of the “withdrawal of the Libyan ambassador to Athens” and the “summoning of Greek officials in Tripoli.”
In Athens, the Greek Foreign Ministry blamed the diplomatic incident on Libyan officials, Mr. In a press release they accused Dentias of “ignoring the agreement” that provided for no meeting between him and his Libyan counterpart.
According to Athens, Mr. Dendias was to meet only the head of the presidential council, Mohamed al-Menfi, in Tripoli before heading to Benghazi, the seat of rival officials in the country’s east, bypassing the government.
The Benghazi stage was maintained and Mr. Tendias met officials there to “donate them anti-Covid vaccines”.
“At the Benghazi airport, the arrival ceremony usually takes place,” said Mr. Dentias tweeted and posted a photo of Libyan soldiers welcoming him.
Athens has been at odds since signing two memorandums of understanding with the Tripoli government in 2019, one on military cooperation and the other, more controversial, on maritime demarcation. Eastern Mediterranean.
In early October, Tripoli and Ankara signed an agreement on prospecting for hydrocarbons in Libyan waters condemned by Greece and Egypt.
“This agreement threatens stability and security in the Mediterranean,” said Mr. Tendias traveled to Cairo at that time and challenged the legitimacy of the Tripoli government.
Two governments have been vying for power since March in Libya, which descended into chaos after an uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Tripoli was formed as part of a UN-backed peace process, while the rival government is backed by Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s Eastern bloc.