Recent tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean have multiple drivers including the race for exploitation of energy resources, long-standing maritime disputes, and the broader geopolitical competition between regional powers. While Turkey’s recent assertiveness of her rights in the Eastern Mediterranean drew renewed attention to the region, this round of confrontation has been long in the making.
The Eastern Mediterranean question, like a ghost train, shuttles around and around, plunging the global agenda into fright with each passing day.
Greece continues to escalate tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean amid calls from the European Union for dialogue. In addition to conducting military exercises, Athens deployed troops to the island of Kastellorizo (Megisti-Meis) and is preparing to conclude an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) agreement with the Greek Cypriots – similar to Athens' controversial deal with Egypt. Last but not least, Greek leaders fueled tensions last week by talking about extending their claims in the Ionian Sea to 12 nautical miles.
Tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean seem incapable of de-escalating. Although the situation on the Sirte-Jufra line in Libya remains under control thanks to Turkey’s diplomatic talks with the U.S. and Russia, last week’s explosion in Lebanon and the Greco-Egyptian maritime deal fueled tensions anew. Athens and Cairo recently announced that they had concluded an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) agreement, directly challenging Turkey’s November 2019 deal with Libya. As a matter of fact, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias did not hesitate to describe that agreement as “the opposite” of the Turkish-Libyan treaty.