Turkey, Politics

Turkey, Turkish Cyprus boost activity in E.Med in 2019

Agreement signed between Turkey and Libya creates paradigm shift in Eastern Mediterranean

Muhammet Ikbal Arslan   | 31.12.2019
Turkey, Turkish Cyprus boost activity in E.Med in 2019 File Photo

LEFKOSA, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) stepped up their activity in the Eastern Mediterranean in 2019, strengthening their position with a decisive attitude.

Turkey took a proactive attitude in 2019 both diplomatically and on the ground towards hydrocarbon resources in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The country is carrying out exploration for hydrocarbon resources with its seismic exploration ships the Oruc Reis and Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa, and is carrying out drilling activities with its vessels the Fatih and Yavuz.

It faced criticism from the EU over these moves, but Turkey has refused to back down.

Turkey signed a continental shelf delimitation agreement with the TRNC in 2011 and this November inked with Libya a memorandum of understanding on the delimitation of the maritime jurisdiction areas.

The international community interpreted the recent Turkish-Libyan maritime deal as one of the most important political gains that have been achieved by Turkey, creating a paradigm shift in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The pact prevented Israel, Egypt, the Greek Cypriot administration, and Greece from ignoring Turkey and other countries which have a coast on the Mediterranean.

Efforts by Mustafa Akinci, the Turkish Cypriot president, to restart talks to solve the Cyprus dispute were not reciprocated by the Greek Cypriots.

Turkey and the TRNC government stated in 2019 that in order to solve the Cyprus dispute, other models besides federation can be discussed.

In July, the TRNC also proposed to the Greek Cypriot side formation of joint committee on hydrocarbon resources, a proposal rejected by the Greek Cypriot side.

Turkey is a guarantor nation for the TRNC and has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration's unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the TRNC also has rights to the resources in the area.

In 1974, following a coup aiming at annexation of Cyprus by Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the TRNC was founded.

The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the Cyprus dispute, all ending in failure. The latest, held with the participation of the guarantor countries -- Turkey, Greece, and the U.K. -- came to an end without any progress in 2017 in Switzerland.

* Writing by Fatih Hafiz Mehmet in Ankara

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