Turkey-Greece Tensions in the Mediterranean (24 August 2020)
|Turkey-Greece Tensions in the Mediterranean (24 August 2020)|
Why in News:
Turkey's big push into the Mediterranean featuring gas drilling, tough rhetoric and warships rooted in a grand vision of a "Blue Homeland" is causing concern from EU neighbors.
Fearful of being denied a fair share of the region's bountiful natural gas wealth, Turkey sent a research vessel and a small navy armada into seas Greece claims as its own, dramatically escalating tensions on August 10.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday announced that Turkey had made its biggest-ever discovery of natural gas in the Black Sea. France, already at odds with Turkey over Libya and parts of the Middle East, sent in its own ships into the region to help out Greece, prompting Erdogan to warn he would retaliate against any attack.
Critics say the "Blue Homeland" doctrine is the latest example of Turkey resorting to disruption to coerce others into achieving what it wants. But Turkish officials and former admirals responsible for the policy argue Greece's demands based on a scattering of tiny islands are unfair since Turkey has larger mainland territory in the eastern part of the sea.
NATO allies and neighbors Greece and Turkey have traditionally had bitter relations and have been in conflict for decades over several issues. Both the countries have engaged in war three times since the mid-1970s, including once over drilling exploration rights. Recent discoveries of natural gas and drilling plans across the east Mediterranean have led to renewed tension.
Summary of the Debate
Reasons of this conflict:
- The Libyan context is the important reason where all the regional countries are involved and Turkey is the most recent entrant militarily on behalf of the government of Sarraj in the western part of Libya and that is why this whole thing began, because when he signed this maritime agreement with Libya it provoked an immediate action because it bypassed all the major islands include and he started going around Crete, which is the biggest island of Greece and started drilling around there.
- The plan of European Union (EU) and its allies to build a gas pipeline from the Mediterranean to Europe’s mainland to transport the gas has excluded Turkey, this has infuriated Turkey.
- There is division in the region, the Greece, Cyprus and France are on the one side in this whole thing, the Turkey is supported by Italy, Malta and Spain; they are all three Mediterranean countries in the region.
- The EastMed Gas Forum was formed by Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan and Palestine in 2019 and Turkey was again not included.
- Egyptian parliament had allowed the deployment of the Egyptian forces that have been stopped by the regional countries as well as Americans; this could have been a war between Turks and Egyptians on Libyan soil.
- The disagreement of Turkey and Greece over overlapping claims to hydrocarbon resources in the region.
- On the issue of the EU, there is a business interest, which is also in some way driving the political equations.
- All sides have to look at these several maps, which were supposed to be bad in a law, but the problem with Turkey has been that, it is not even a member of UNCLOS; it should have been a member of this so that it could file a claim. So, the only thing is that they need is come down to the negotiating table.
- In the large scale the parties around will have to step back and deescalate.
- EU and NATO at some point will have to enhance the engagement with the issue.
- India is not a player in the eastern Mediterranean at all, India is not uncomfortable with the fact that Erdogan’s power or his situation is worsening.
Important points made by the Guests
Anil Trigunayat, Former Ambassador
Professor Ummu Salma Bava, Centre for European Studies, JNU
Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, Foreign Editor, Hindustan Times