COMMENT

A case of Turkish bullying

By Stavros Lygeros

While neo-Ottoman duo Erdogan and Davutoglu proclaim their zero-problem policy regarding neighboring states, as is usually the case with Turkey, their rhetoric has nothing to do with their actions.

A recent example is the threats of military action against Cyprus?s plan to conduct exploratory drilling in Block 12 of its maritime Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), scheduled to begin on October 1. This will be carried out by US-based Noble Energy, a company with Israeli ties which has the exploitation rights.

The fact that threats of military action usually bear fruit has resulted in Ankara becoming addicted to this tactic. This time round, however, it is not going against a frightened Greek political elite or the weak Republic of Cyprus. The European Union, the USA and Russia have all pledged their support for Cyprus?s right to drill. Yet the most important factor in this case is that Israel has pledged to protect the drilling taking place in the area, including the Cypriot Block 12, apparently with Washington?s blessing.

Israel?s position is based on geopolitical expediencies. From the moment neo-Ottoman Turkey turned against Israel in an effort to be recognized as the Muslim world?s leading power, and given the instability in Egypt, Israel?s only politically safe and culturally friendly passage to the West is through Greece. This is why it is moving toward the formation of a strategic relationship with Cyprus and Greece. Moreover, the pipeline distributing any natural gas found to Europe would pass through Greece. Israel?s position on this is an additional, forceful cause of the recent deterioration in Turkish-Israeli relations.

The fact that Americans and Europeans are backing Cyprus and Israel is not solely a result of Jewish lobbying. The energy deposits in the Eastern Mediterranean will contribute to the EU being energy-independent from Russia. Because of this, they consider it is preferable for these deposits to belong to their legal proprietor, Cyprus, as opposed to difficult Turkey.

To justify its roaring, Ankara claims Nicosia has no right to exploit the deposits as it doesn?t represent the Turk Cypriots. The UN, however, recognizes the Cypriot government as the legitimate government of all of Cyprus. Meanwhile, the Turk threats are not based on Ankara?s position that the island has two states. According to Turkey?s position, ?the Greek-Cypriot state? is entitled to its own Exclusive Economic Zone to the south of Cyprus; Block 12 would be part of this zone and not of the EEZ that would belong to the ?Turkish-Cypriot state,? if it was legitimate.

In other words, here?s another case of Turkish bullying which might just not work this time round.

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