The Greek foreign minister has refused to disembark from a plane that had landed at Libya's Tripoli and left without an explanation, cancelling his meetings with Libyan authorities.

In this file photo, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias speaks during a joint press conference with his Italian counterpart Antonio Tajani in Rome, Nov. 16, 2022.
In this file photo, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias speaks during a joint press conference with his Italian counterpart Antonio Tajani in Rome, Nov. 16, 2022. (Roberto Monaldo/LaPresse / AP)

The Tripoli-based Libyan unity government on Thursday decried the refusal of Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias to get off his plane following his arrival in Tripoli and his return without offering any clarification.

The Libyan Foreign Ministry said in a statement that based on a request by the Greek side to visit Libya, the Ministry gave its approval for the Greek Minister's visit, adding that Libyan Foreign Minister Najla al Mangoush was at the airport to receive him "in accordance with diplomatic norms."

The statement said that the Libyan Foreign Ministry "decries the [Greek] behaviour and will take suitable diplomatic measures that preserves the Libyan state's prestige and sovereignty."

The Greek authorities have yet to comment on the incident.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias was supposed to make a one-day visit to Libya to meet with Mohamed Menfi, chairman of the Libyan Presidential Council, and Aguila Saleh, speaker of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives but his sudden departure from Tripoli's airport cancelled the meetings.

The internationally-recognised unity government spokesperson Muhammed Hammude told an AA reporter that the acting Greek ambassador to the foreign ministry in response to the Greek foreign minister’s attitude, and that Libya’s acting ambassador in Greece was recalled in order to discuss the political standoff.

‘Greek foreign minister’s attitude an insult to people of Libya’

Hammude added that the Greek minister’s act was greeted with regret by the Libyan government and that they will not announce the next steps regarding the act just yet. “The Greek foreign minister’s attitude today is an affront to the people of Libya and the government,” he noted. Hammude said Dendias’s plane headed to Benghazi in Libya’s east.

In the Greek press

The Greek press reported that Dendias cancelled his visit because Libyan Foreign Minister Najla al Mangoush was there to receive him at the airport. The Greek press also reported that Dendias’ plane went from Tripoli to Benghazi via Malta because Libya allegedly did not approve the flight plan.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias’ refusal to get off the plane at Libya’s capital Tripoli and his subsequent unexplained departure had caused a crisis between the two countries.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies