OPINION: Turkey’s belligerent view on maritime boundaries in the East Mediterranean and its jarring claim to a share of gas found off Cyprus have made Ankara few friends.
But it seems President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cares little and is content to continue his ‘might is right’ approach to dealing with Cyprus and Greece.
Similar to Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea, Erdogan uses military muscle to support his Mediterranean Sea ambitions.
The right for the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus — and, therefore, Turkey — to access valuable gas discoveries off Cyprus makes little sense.
Declaring a joint maritime boundary with Libya, while ignoring a legitimate maritime claim for the Greek island of Crete, also seems an opportunistic move to antagonise Athens.
Erdogan says no island should generate an exclusive economic zone, a view that contradicts the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea — which Ankara has not signed — and holds no water when it come to Cyprus and Crete.
However, he is right about Kastellorizo, a Greek islet lying just off Turkey’s south coast. It is a geopolitical anomaly that should have a long and narrow EEZ that does not impinge on Turkey’s legitimate maritime claims.
France and Canada negotiated just such an EEZ — called the ‘baguette’ — for the French islands of St Pierre & Miquelon off Newfoundland.
A similar breakthrough on Kastellorizo could help ease tensions between Ankara and Athens and allow Erdogan to scale back his more outlandish demands.
(This is an Upstream opinion article.)