File photo: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photograph:( AFP )
Turkey’s Erdogan is militarising the eastern Mediterranean region where boundary disputes have remained a local affair for decades
A new geopolitical storm is brewing in the Mediterranean. Two factions are emerging in a potential conflict which could engulf large parts of Europe.
On the one hand there are European countries like France, Cyprus and, Greece. On the other, there's Turkey which wants to establish a modern-day Islamic Caliphate.
Turkey’s Erdogan is militarising the eastern Mediterranean region where boundary disputes have remained a local affair for decades.
A key strategic arena
In the last five years, the region has turned into a key strategic arena after the discovery of offshore natural gas reserves worth trillions of dollars. Minor conflicts have been reported in the last five years, but the tipping point was witnessed this month.
In August, Greek and Turkish vessels collided in the eastern Mediterranean region. Both sides called the collision an accident. Following that, Turkey declared that the de facto boundaries that exist in these waters were illegitimate. Oruc Reis, the Turkish vessel that was involved in the collision remains stationed near the collision site.
Erdogan says that the vessel is exploring oil and gas in the Mediterranean until August 23. Erdogan added that if attempts are made to stop it from doing so, Turkey will retaliate. “They will receive their answer in kind”, said Erdogan.
Greece is asking the European Union to respond to Turkey's aggression, with the Greek foreign minister terming Turkey's actions illegal. Greece also reiterated its exclusive economic rights in the disputed waters.
Cyprus’ foreign minister says Turkey wants to destabilise the Mediterranean region, and that it is trying to blackmail and threaten European countries into submission.
Will EU stand the test?
The EU remains divided on how to handle Turkey's growing belligerence. The six European Mediterranean countries are evenly split on the issue.
Greece, Cyprus, and France are advocating strong action against Turkey while Italy, Malta, and Spain have refrained from getting involved.
Germany currently holds the EU presidency till July next year and is known to keep Ankara close to the EU. Angela Merkel is being accused of appeasing Erdogan for Germany's energy interests. Turkey which has an easy access to offshore reserves is said to have always helped Germany meet its demands.