A statement from the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the Egyptian and Greek defense ministers first signed the agreement on the rescue missions. Later, the deputy foreign ministers signed an agricultural agreement allowing up to 5,000 seasonal workers from Egypt to stay in Greece for up to nine months, the statement said.
“Our goal is to create a framework to help save precious human lives,” Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias told reporters after the signing.
Each year, tens of thousands of migrants fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa try to enter the European Union, often risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean to reach Greece or Italy.
Egypt and Greece have been trying to strengthen ties since Turkey signed a preliminary maritime and gas agreement with the Libyan government in Tripoli in October. The deal includes a joint exploration of hydrocarbon reserves in Libya’s offshore waters, with both Egypt and Greece accusing Ankara of using them to expand its influence in the Mediterranean.
Tensions between Athens and Ankara have increased since 2019, when the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a deal with the government in Libya’s capital Tripoli, giving it access to a disputed economic zone in the eastern Mediterranean. The deal ignored the existence of several Greek islands, including Crete.
Libya is divided between two rival governments, based in the west and east of the country.