Category Archives: EEZ

The Law of the Sea Convention, the Eastern Mediterranean, and Clinton’s Testimony

Abstract:

Since the U.S. is still the world’s sole superpower, its participation in international conventions is very important for both itself and the better function and implementation of the various International Legal Frameworks. As such, a possible future ratification of the [Law of the Sea] Convention by the U.S. would have broad politico-legal implications for other states and areas in the world, where the Treaty has not been signed or ratified and maritime disputes are in place. One such region is the Eastern Mediterranean. This paper firstly looks at the development of the Law of the Sea, the contested provisions of UNCLOS III in the Eastern Mediterranean disputes, and then focuses specifically on Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, and Israel, with regard not only to traditional maritime territorial disputes but also recent developments in the bilateral relations of these countries and in the region, more generally. The analysis concludes with the obstacles that the American politics pose to the ratification of UNICLOS III by the US.

To read the paper click here.

SI Research Paper 2/2012, Strategy International, October 2012.

The “Israel-Cyprus-Greece” Axis and Turkey

It has become obvious that in the Eastern Mediterranean a new politico-economic, and in an important degree, strategic, axis is developing, consisting of Israel, Cyprus, and Greece. This cooperation has not come as a surprise for those who follow the geopolitical developments of the last years in the region. It is the product of various factors and developments that have taken place on different levels. Yet, the most significant factors that have led to the creation of this cooperation (and for many, alliance) are the gradual changes in Turkish foreign policy, mainly since 2002, which have led to the deterioration of the Turkish-Israeli relations, as well as the discovery of hydrocarbons in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Cyprus, in conjunction with the efforts of the Republic of Cyprus (RoC) to delimitate its EEZ with other states of the Eastern Mediterranean. The Turkish-Israeli relations took a turn for the worst in May 2010, with the “Gaza Flotilla incident”, where Israeli commandos killed eight Turkish and one Turkish-american activist during a raid on the “Mavi Marmara” ship that was carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip. Regarding the case of Cyprus and the natural gas, the tensions escalated when Turkey, since the summer and autumn of 2011, threatened the RoC both verbally and by mobilizing warships, in order to achieve the interruption of its efforts for drillings in “Block 12”, in the southeast of the Island.

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Cypriot Natural Gas and the Eastern Mediterranean: Between Crisis and Cooperation

Natural resources have long been the cause of both development and conflict. Of course, in resource-abundant countries natural resources have, more often than not, caused conflict rather than development. However, the same cannot be said for third countries, often colonial powers, which exploited such resources abroad for their own development. This is one of the reasons why natural resources have been often referred to as a “curse”; an additional reason is the implications that the exist-ence of natural resources has for the management of the economy (e.g. high prices, low exports, etc.).

Cyprus has itself effectively acquired the status of a resource-abundant country when recently, on what was called “an historic” day, the President of the Republic Demetris Christofias announced that the Block 12 of the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) “contained an estimated 5 to 8 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas”. As “the second-largest hydrocarbon discovery in Europe in more than a decade”, the Cypriot natural gas paves the way for not only local but also regional development and cooperation. However, there is always the flip side of the coin and that is the international rivalry that may be triggered due to the alteration of the regional balance of power as a result of this and other developments. Below I briefly examine the features of the limited crisis surrounding the Cypriot natural gas and the Eastern Mediterranean more generally, as well as the features of a potential international cooperation at the re-gional and trans-regional level. The goal is to deter-mine whether bilateral disputes could be bridged, given the political and geopolitical realities at hand, to the end of avoiding a crisis escalation in the Eastern Mediterranean.

To read the complete version of this article download Political Reflection Quarterly Vol.3 No.2, 2012, pp.56-59, here

Understanding Turkey’s Cyprus Problem

On the 28th of December, the Cypriot President Demetris Christofias announced that the Aphrodite Block 12 field off the coast of Cyprus contains between 5 and 8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, which “opens up great potential for Cyprus and its people,” he said. Now the question is whether the gas find might also create a new dynamic which could lead to greater regional cooperation and a faster solution to the Cyprus problem.

Apart from President Christofias many other officials and academics supported the idea that the discovery of natural gas could make the conditions for a settlement more favourable. This notion implies, among other things, that Turkey will recognise the great interest it has from a future settlement in Cyprus; that it will appreciate how it could benefit from a future joint exploitation of the natural gas by the two communities under a federal state; as well as the possibilities of cooperation between Cyprus and itself, in consuming and transporting the gas. This is not implausible. And no one could question the benefits that Turkey would have from the implementation of such a scenario. However, this logic does not take into account the coercive attitude and unproductive diplomacy that Turkey has been pursuing of late. Moreover, this rosy picture also does not consider the other external relations of Turkey such as with the EU, nor the state’s domestic politics. Thus, while we cannot exclude the possibility that Turkey will change its stance, at the same time, the realities we have at hand do not leave us much space for optimism.

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The Future of Energy Security in Southeastern Europe and the Establishment of the Greek EEZ

Given the growing interest in the energy developments of the Eastern Mediterranean, and Southeastern Europe more generally, this article looks at the importance of this region for the energy security of Europe, and more specifically the European Union (EU), focusing on what role Greece could or should play through the establishment of its own Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Setting the Geographical Framework

Since we are referring to Southeastern Europe we should first, briefly, set the geographical boundaries of this region. The name Southeastern Europe was firstly used in 1863 by Johann Georg von Hahn and it came to be a synonym to, and characterize the Balkan Peninsula.[1] Other scholars argued for a wider Southeastern Europe that extends as far as Turkey, Cyprus, and even, for example, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine.[2] Leaving aside the long-standing debate on the boundaries of Europe, we would argue that given the UN map of Europe[3] and the present geographical boundaries of the EU, including the candidate states for EU membership, Southeastern Europe includes the Balkans in the West, Turkey in the East, the Greek Islands and Cyprus in the South, and extends, roughly, to Ukraine in the North.[4]

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Turkey: War or Blank Shots?

The recent developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, with Turkey threatening both Israel and Cyprus in an effort to prevent them from proceeding with the extraction of the Cypriot natural gas and beyond, the question that arises is whether Turkey can – or is willing – to carry out its threats.
Given all the things it has accomplished the last decade, including the recent victory of the Islamists against the Kemalist establishment, and knowing that there is indeed a gap of power in the wider Mediterranean region, Turkey, has overestimated itself and has adopted an unprecedentedly arrogant stance which leads to the overt promotion of its national interests. But this arrogance has put it in a very difficult position from which it will hardly come out unscathed. At this moment it is balancing between two realities: the threats that it already made on the one hand and the multiple fronts it has to face on the other. For example Turkey is facing the Kurdish problem at home and on its borders with Northern Iraq, Syria and Iran. Moreover, its relations with Syria are in serious decline because of the crisis that is taking place in the latter. Furthermore, Ankara seems to be losing the support of the Iranian government particularly since it has agreed to install NATO’s anti-missile radar in Turkish soil. To this troubling situation the crisis with Israel has also been added.
Consequently, it would be rational for Turkey not to further escalate the situation. However it has already threatened Cyprus and Israel. It has already used “strategic coercion.” If it does not work, according to this kind of tactic, Turkey should normally proceed in carrying out its threats in order to maintain its credibility as a regional superpower. Anything less than that would affect its image and at the same time it would mean that such a tactic would not be convincing in the future. Therefore Turkey appears to be in a big dilemma: to engage in a war which seems to be beyond its capabilities (mainly because it will weaken its domestic security), or to step back risking the image that it tried so hard to create? The most likely scenario is that Turkey will undertake its well known violations (of airspace and marine boarders), creating small-scale events which it can easily handle, in order to keep the risky equilibrium between what it wants and what it can accomplish. Another – unlikely but nonetheless not implausible – scenario is to see Turkey going beyond what is reasonable and possible, together with a full shift in Davutoglu’s doctrine of “zero-problems” and “soft-power”.