The Mediterranean Sea Dispute Between NATO Allies
By Christopher Quiles
September 2, 2020
As the dispute in the Mediterranean Sea continues so does Turkeys aggressive posture over the energy rich coast of Cyprus where Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sent a Turkish drilling vessel Oruc Reis. Turkey claims exploration rights within an area of dispute about the continental shelf which hold rich deposits of gas and oil. Greece however, claims that its inhabited islands are surrounded by a 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), per the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Turkey was not a part of the original agreement but signed an EEZ agreement in late 2019 with the GNA, Libyan Government of National Accord.
The EEZ agreement the countries signed were an agreement that none of the Greek Islands have actual continental shelving and therefore cannot have claims to the oil and gas that lays underneath its continental shelving. Germany seems to be understanding to this “Legal Trickey” and calls for Turkey and Greece to come to talks and de-escalate the situation in the Akdeniz (Turkish for “the White Sea” nickname for the Mediterranean). Turkey says it has claims to the resources, they argue that it’s their proverbial “piece of the pie” and is entitled to their fair share. This put EU leaders in choppy waters.
They [EU] have previously installed sanctions against Turkey for the drilling off Cyprus. Now the EU is either debating on what the next round of sanctions to slap on Turkey or are hesitant to see what Turkey plans. Allegedly Erdogan had promised Chancellor Merkel that they [Turkey] will soften its position in days ahead.
While the EU deliberates on sanctions towards Turkey. Greece voiced hope saying that the threat of sanctions gives turkey an “exit strategy” over their “illegal” prospecting activities.
“It is in Turkey’s interest above all, with its economy shaken and so many open fronts, to realize that right now Europe is offering it a way out … (allowing) the peaceful settling of our differences to define maritime zones between the two countries.”-Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas
Erdogan’s statement was that his country was ready to pay for its efforts to defend its rights in the eastern Mediterranean. And called in accounts of the “greed and incompetence” of Greece and France’s leaders. Ankara eluded to the fact that the countries weren’t ready to make the same sacrifices. Ankara has voiced claims of Greece building up of troops off the coast of Turkey on the tiny island.
” Pointing Guns Towards Turkey’s Coasts is Foolishness.”-Omer Celik
Turkey’s continuous aggressive stance and open threats has only brought together its potential adversaries. Greece, Cyprus, France and Egypt sit together against the Turkish empire and their influence. Iraq now joins the continuing countries who oppose the Turkish aggressiveness because of the large operation Turkey is conducting in the northern province against the Kurdish-separatist PKK.
With this many countries and alliances mounting against the Turkish country. Their saber rattling isn’t just an empty threat. It seems Turkey is pushing forward through the EU bloc with little regards for what could happen next. Not unlike the old idiom “a cornered animal has nowhere to go except forward.”
Although turkey has an aforementioned “way out”, it is unlikely that Erdogan will choose to lose face in the international community. It seems that Turkey would pursue a war on all fronts with no close allies around rather than to simply retrack his efforts and come to a common goal solution in which Greece and the EU have called for.
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