Ankara, Turkey – Greece is trying to impose preconditions for not sitting at the negotiating table, despite Turkey’s repeated calls for dialogue in the Eastern Mediterranean. Instigated by non-regional actors such as France against Turkey, the Greek Administration insists on taking steps to resolve the crisis, rather than establishing a direct dialogue with Turkey, which will further fuel tensions. Greece, the Commission of the European Union,” Seville map ‘is not an official document of the EU ‘stated, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu Greece Seville map does not end the tension,” he continues to insist on the Seville map. What is happening in the Eastern Mediterranean? What Greece and France are aiming for with their brazen demands.
The origin of the tension in the Eastern Mediterranean, why Greece is not interested in dialogue with Turkey, What is behind France’s position that increases blood pressure in the region, and the view of international actors on the crisis.
1-How did tensions flare up in the Eastern Mediterranean?
For the first time, the fuse of tension in the Eastern Mediterranean was ignited when the Greek part of Cyprus signed international agreements to manage the natural wealth around the island, ignoring the legal and legitimate rights of the Turkish side in the North.
Western companies, with the support of their governments, engaged in natural gas exploration and drilling in a wide area with the Greeks.
The warnings of Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) that the riches around the island should be brought to the benefit of all the people by bringing a just and permanent solution to the Cyprus problem have been heeded by the interlocutors of the issue for years.
As the existence of large hydrocarbon fields in the Eastern Mediterranean was discovered, the countries of the region who wanted to exploit these riches turned to making Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) agreements.
Warnings from Turkey and the TRNC against the Greek Cypriot Administration, which signed so-called Mone agreements with Egypt in 2003, Lebanon in 2007 and Israel in 2010, continued.
Turkey and TRNC continued to work in defiance of their rights
The Greek Cypriot Administration continued its work in the field of hydrocarbons, coinciding with Western companies and areas owned by Turkey and the TRNC.
Gas Gang’s dirty plans
Egypt, Greece, the Greek Cyriot Administration (GCA) and Israel have tried to eliminate actors such as Turkey, Libya and Lebanon through the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum they created in Egypt.
In a good faith initiative, the TRNC and Turkey proposed to the Greek Cypriot side to establish a joint committee on hydrocarbon resources through the United Nations (UN). In this way, a new formula could be found for the smooth operation of resources within the framework of mutual reconciliation until a just and permanent solution was found on the island.
But the Greek administration, which sees the support of the European Union (EU) behind it, has shown that it is not open to cooperation.
2-What does Greece want to do against Turkey by putting forward the Seville Map?
The map of Seville is used as one of the main tools of the Greek-GCA duo’s dreams of isolating Turkey by imprisoning it on the Mediterranean coast.
Professor, expert in human maritime geography, University of Seville, Spain this map, named after the university because it was prepared by Juan Luis Suarez de Vivero, suggests that the area claimed by Greece as a continental shelf in the Aegean and Mediterranean Sea and the borders of the EEZ declared by the Greek Cypriot Administration in 2004 are the official borders of the EU.
According to this map, the Greek continental shelf, starting from the island of Meis, descends southwards to the middle of the Mediterranean Sea and does not give Turkey an opportunity to exit outside the Gulf of Antalya.
Turkey denies these claims, stressing that creating an island with a surface measurement of 10 square kilometers, 2 kilometers from Anatolia and 580 kilometers from the Greek mainland, a continental shelf area with a width of 40 thousand square kilometers, is not a rational thesis and in accordance with international law.
This tension will not end if they do not give up the map of Seville
“This tension will not end unless Greece renounces the Seville map, respects Turkey’s continental shelf and renounces its demands for the islands and Meis in a maximalist approach,” said Cavusoglu, who said that the problem will not be solved unless the preconditions are met.” said.
Cavusoglu said that the refusal of the Greek part of Southern Cyprus to take steps that ignore the Turks on the island is a prerequisite for Turkey.
“Greece has so far made it a prerequisite for us to stop all our activities in order to meet with us,” Cavusoglu said, noting that Turkey should also accept the preconditions if Greece requests dialogue by setting preconditions. If you make a prerequisite, you must meet our preconditions. We put the issues we put forward as conditions on the table when we sit unconditionally, and the facts come out., “he said.
3 – Why does Greece heed Turkey’s calls for dialogue?
Greece’s statements on the principle of distance, assuming island parts as “Mother Land,” are not equivalent in international law.
In international law, the principle of distance is not mentioned as a rule in the limitation of the continental shelf and EEZ.
The basic rule in both international law and the UN Convention on the law of the Sea is the principle of “fair sharing”.
According to this principle, islands can be given less continental shelf or Mone area compared to the mainland. Even the islands can be completely surrounded.
At this point, many factors are taken into account, such as the size of the islands, the length of the front, the location, how far they are from the mainland.
Greece is aware that it is unfair
Greece, aware of its injustice in this context, is hesitant to sit at the negotiating table with Turkey, stipulating that Turkey should end its seismic research and drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean in order to establish a dialogue.
Greece continues its drive to increase blood pressure in the region to block the way for a legal and fair negotiation, arguing that the issue between Turkey and Turkey is “just a question of determining the continental shelf”.
Turkey, stating its readiness for dialogue, temporarily withdrew the Oruç Reis ship, which was conducting seismic research, as a show of good faith.
As eyes turned to the Turkey-Greece talks, which will take place at the invitation of the current EU President, Germany, Greece surprisingly signed a maritime authority limitation agreement with Egypt the day before the talks, and tensions rose again.
On top of this step, Greece further raised the pressure with joint military exercises with France and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the south of the island of Crete.
Turkey has repeatedly invited Greece to the table
In the process, Turkey repeatedly invited Greece to the table as a requirement of good neighbourly relations, but the Greek Administration ignored these calls every time.
4-What is France aiming for by provoking Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean?
France, a non-regional actor, is notable for its attempts to “play a role” in the Eastern Mediterranean over this crisis, decrying Germany’s efforts to find intermediaries.
Macron is fueling the fire
French President Emmanuel Macron, who calls this region a “red line”, is almost fueling the fire with both the heavy traffic of joint military exercises he has embarked on with Greece and the statements aimed at Turkey in the person of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Macron, who has “encouraged” Greece to increase its military spending by provoking Athens, is preparing to receive the first fruit of his “crisis-turning” attitude with the sale of 18 Rafale-type fighter jets to this country.
5-What position do other international actors stand in?
Against Greece’s illegal position in the region, EU countries seem unable to set a common policy.
Although European countries have issued messages of” support “for Greece and the Greek Cypriot Administration under the name” EU solidarity”, several countries emphasize that bilateral problems should be solved through dialogue in the crisis in question.
Italy and Spain are among the countries that are cold-eyed about the sanctions option that Greece and the Greek Cypriot Administration have insisted on before the EU.
Pursuing an “equal distance” policy between two NATO member countries, Turkey and Greece, the United States seems to have recently lost its role in the region to France.
Scandalous step from US
The Administration of US President Donald Trump frequently calls for “diplomacy” but is far from weighing its weight on the crisis because of issues in domestic politics.
As the most concrete sign of the US Administration’s position in the crisis, it decided to partially lift the arms embargo imposed on the Greek Cypriot Administration for many years during this period.
NATO, which should be one of the most functional platforms for reducing tensions, is also in an inadequate position for a solution due to the silence of the United States, which leads the formation.
Greece complicates settlement
On the other hand, the Greek Administration does not agree to a joint solution with Turkey in NATO and calls for a solution in EU sanctions against Turkey are among the elements that make the possibility of a solution in the alliance difficult.