The Conflict Potential of the Eastern Mediterranean

110
DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2022-66-3-130-138
P. Gudev, gudev@imemo.ru
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation.

Received 04.10.2021.

Abstract. In recent years, the Eastern Mediterranean has become an area of confrontation between regional powers, with extra-regional countries, including the U.S. and the EU, also influencing the situation. The specificity of the situation stems from the fact that uneasy and often tense relations between the states in the region (Greece–Turkey; Israel– Palestine; Israel–Lebanon; Turkey–Syria), which are often at war or do not even have diplomatic relations, are complemented by their desire for access to the water areas as well as living and non-living resources of the sea. Who gets this access will determine the prospects for its social and economic development in the very long term. Discovered oil and gas reserves as well as the plans of certain states to build their respective pipelines intensify competition for resources. In turn, this process inevitably faces the need for maritime delimitation between countries, both with adjacent and opposing coasts, in which no one is prepared to make any concessions. It is primarily a question of delimiting the exclusive economic zones and the continental shelf, where coastal states have sovereign rights and jurisdiction to explore and exploit resources. The situation is aggravated by the presence of a series of island formations in the region, key among which is the Greek island of Kastelorizo, which also claims to form all the prescribed maritime zones of sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction. Turkey, which has the longest coastline in the region, cannot accept the infringement of its rights if the islands are given such rights to form extended maritime zones. Ankara as a non-party to the 1958 Geneva Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea believes that any delimitation must be equitable and not based solely on the existing law. Turkey is firmly against any delimitation based on the median (equidistance) line method. It has pursued a highly provocative policy both to conduct seismological surveys in areas it considers its own and to conclude bilateral demarcation agreements where others perceive its maritime borders. The essence of these actions is to show that it is Turkey, not Greece or the Republic of Cyprus as an island state, that has the right to draw any maritime boundaries. The culmination of this policy was the 2019 Turkey–Libya Memorandum on Maritime Delimitation, which, although rejected by the international community, showed Ankara’s true agenda and its insistence on promoting its national interests.

Keywords: 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, continental shelf, maritime delimitation, median line, islands regime, Kastelorizo Island, Turkey, NAVTEX, seismological surveys


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For citation:
Gudev P. The Conflict Potential of the Eastern Mediterranean. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2022, vol. 66, no. 3, pp. 130-138. https://doi.org/10.20542/0131-2227-2022-66-3-130-138



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