Istanbul, Turkey – In 2003, the Greek Cypriot Administration of Southern Cyprus (GCASC) entered into an EEZ agreement with Egypt, which included 11,500 square kilometres of Egyptian maritime territory in its territory. Although Turkey does not recognize this agreement, it has not been able to make a deal with Egypt for 17 years. However, Egypt is the best partner in terms of mutual coasts that third countries cannot object to make an EEZ agreement.
With the clear support of the European Union, the problems of the Eastern Mediterranean have been added to existing problems arising from Greece in the Islands sea. On the issue of this exclusive economic zone; the country with the longest coast in the Eastern Mediterranean Turkey, wants to have maritime jurisdiction, while confined to its territorial waters, but Greece demands maritime boundary thousands of times the size of for even the tiny 10-square-mile island of Meis, which remains on the opposite side. Greece also produces a continental shelf off the coast of Rhodes, Kerpe, Kashot and Crete islands facing the Eastern Mediterranean. This artificial formation is never accepted by Turkey.
In March 2002, Turkish warships intervened the research vessel which was alerted and removed from the site because the Norwegian-flagged Northern Access research vessel chartered by the GCASC was attempting to conduct a seismic survey on Turkey’s continental shelf. In the past 18 years, a large number of seismic research and drilling vessels have been interfered by elements of the Navy. The 2009 EU progress report stated that during the reporting period, the Turkish navy blocked many civilian ships seeking oil for the GCASC, and the EU report gave clear support to Greece and the GCASC for further arrogant aggression.
However, the “Gunboat Diplomacy” implemented by the Navy in this process could not be crowned by bilateral maritime boundary delimitation agreements in foreign policy. In 2003, the GCASC signed an EEZ agreement with Egypt, including seizure of 11,500 square kilometres of Egypt’s maritime area. Although Turkey does not recognize this agreement, it has not been able to reach an agreement with Egypt in any of the periods in which Egyptian leaders Mubarak, Mursi and Sisi have been dissimilar for 17 years. However, Egypt is the best partner that third countries cannot object to make an EEZ agreement. Again, 10 years ago, the agreement between the the GCASC and Israel to delimit their maritime boundary, Israel’s agreement with the GCASC lost close to 5 thousand square kilometers of sea area, although Turkey does not engage in cooperation on this issue. When Greece and the GCASC make agreements with countries in the region, Turkey does not even have ambassadors in those countries. Unfortunately, Turkey has not been able to successfully crown the issue on which it is legally justified until the end. The solution is primarily to reach an agreement with Egypt and Israel delimiting their maritime boundaries. Turkey’s primary interlocutor is not Greece, but Egypt, the mutual coasts.
Turkish seismic research and drilling vessels are currently marking the boundaries of our continental shelf, which Turkey reported to the United Nations via our Permanent Representative Office on March 18, 2019. This situation was met with the reaction of Greece and the GCASC. However, the addresses where they requested assistance did not provide the necessary provision. At the moment, the Turkish and Greek naval and Air Forces are on alert. The tense environment still continues with the fact that third countries, such as France, are de facto parties in the crisis. But fighting doesn’t solve the problem, it delays the solution. The two countries ‘ gains will be far more than they lost from an agreement that Turkey and Greece will make fairly in the Islands Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean without involving anyone. Consequently, what is needed most at the moment is diplomacy and moderation.