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Turkey-Greece connections: Why are the 2 nations locked in a dispute over drilling rights?

Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus are embroiled in a war of words that’s rapidly escalating into shows of military power. What’s the origin of the acrimony? Much like many worldwide disputes, the nations are squaring up to each other over access to natural resources, namely possible oil and gas deposits beneath the seabed of the Mediterranean.

Tensions from Eastern Mediterranean are not anything new, together with NATO allies and acquaintances Greece and Turkey coming into the edge of war over a selection of problems on no less than three events as the 1970s. Competing attempts over drilling rights in a place, which has witnessed a boom in oil and gas extraction in the previous ten years, are only the most up-to-date in a series of disputes going back four years.

Turkey first delivered a drilling ship to the Mediterranean in May 2019 in which it completed seismic surveys and exploratory drilling off the north shore of Cyprus, causing the island country to condemn what it sees as prohibited.

In reaction, that the EU sanctioned Turkey in July 2019, decreasing pre-accession financial aid into the nation for 2020 by $145.8 million and stopping high-level bilateral discussions.

Having been dragged to the dispute, which entails two of its member nations, the EU has continued to reveal”company solidarity” with Greece and Cyprus, always warning Turkey to refrain from drilling activities within the last year.

Unperturbed,” Turkey’s foreign ministry released a statement in the time stating the EU’s sanctions”will on no account influence Turkey’s decision to continue its hydrocarbon activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.”

As opposed to deescalating the circumstance, Turkey has set farther drilling ships into the area this season together with navy escorts, exercising what it sees as its right to get Turkish Cypriot waters – something which now contravenes international law.

As of late August, Greece and Turkey have put their forces on high alert, devoting their navies to darkness one another from the Mediterranean and execute rival battle exercises at the sea between Crete and Cyprus.

In reaction to this continuing crisis, Greece declared on August 26 that it would be extending its territorial waters from six nautical miles to 12 nautical miles – a perfectly legal movement in global law – along its frontier with Italy, abandoning what Prime Union Kyriakos Mitsotakis predicted decades of”passive” foreign policy.

German foreign ministry Heiko Maas cautioned the two states they were”playing with fire, and some other flicker – however modest – could result in a tragedy.”

Throughout its centuries-long ownership from the Ottoman Empire, Turks arrived and settled on the mostly Greek-speaking island.

In response, Turkey invaded and seized the northern areas of the nation.

After the collapse of peace negotiations in Geneva, Turkey began another invasion on August 14 and enlarged its profits from the very first invasion to pay a third of this island.

An UN-backed ceasefire was eventually announced using a buffer zone running throughout the nation which stays in place now.

Turkey recognizes Northern Cyprus, that occupies around 37 percent of the island’s landmass since the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The United Nations recognizes it as a land of the Republic of Cyprus now under Turkish occupation.

What’s this got to do with gasoline?
The dispute has opened old wounds since the place where Turkey originally sent ships comprises waters off the northern shore of this island.

Cyprus and the EU believe the north to participate in this Republic of Cyprus and the seas surrounding it to become a portion of their Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) which means EU countries have the exclusive right to fish, drill and also execute other financial pursuits.

However, as Turkey recognizes Northern Cyprus as independent, with its EEZ, Ankara says it’s within its rights to drill.

Founded in May 2019, in the time that the dispute erupted, Turkish Energy Minister, Fatih Donmez, stated: “Turkey will continue its operations within its continental shelf and in locations where the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus has accredited Turkiye Petrolleri without quitting”.

He added that unilateral arrangements made between Cyprus and the regional states that tried to”steal” the rights of Turkey and Turkish Cypriots had”no legal validity”

From August 2020, the reach of Turkey’s exploratory drilling operations expanded to include waters off the southeast shore of Cyprus plus a bigger area of the sea from the Eastern Mediterranean between Cyprus and Greece. Greece asserts this that the region is above its continental shelf and therefore has exclusive rights to some possible gas and petroleum residue.

Even though Turkis President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared the discovery of another gas area from the Black Sea on August 21, it’s done little to temper Turkey’s ambitions from the Mediterranean.

“Ottoman soul”
The power race can be viewed as yet another aspect of Turkish president Erdoğan’s push to enlarge Turkey’s influence beyond its borders. It’s led some commentators to indicate that Erdoğan has adopted the”Ottoman soul,” branding him a neo-sultan of types.

During previous electoral campaigns, Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) have used slogans such as”descendant of the Ottomans” to explain supporters along with the president.

Stripping the Hagia Sophia of its standing as a tradition and converting it back to a mosque in July, for example, is one such instance where revived Ottomanism isn’t just regarded as eroding the foundations of the royal, western-facing Turkey which were set up by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, but also places the nation in confrontation with regional neighbors.

A Neo-Ottomanist foreign policy under Erdoğan’s tenure as prime minister and the president has witnessed Turkey’s focus change towards former lands of the Ottoman Empire, specifically the Balkans, Cyprus, Syria, Iraq, Israel, and North African countries, including Libya.

While the information was fulfilled by jubilant celebrations among supporters of Erdoğan domestically, reverting the UNESCO world heritage site, a former Orthodox Christian cathedral back into a mosque has just exacerbated tensions with Greece further.

Since Muslims attended Friday prayers to the very first time in 86 decades, church bells rang in mourning across Greece and protests happened in Athens and Thessaloniki, the nation’s second-largest city.

Mitsotakis also condemned the move, saying that it was”not a reflection of electricity” but a”sign of weakness”