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HomeGeopolitical CompassWest & Centeral AsiaGeopolitics and Geoeconomics of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Conflict: Analysis of Turkey’s...

Geopolitics and Geoeconomics of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Conflict: Analysis of Turkey’s Policy

Authors: Sayyad Sadri Alibabalu & Teymur Sarkhanov

Affiliation:  Sakarya University, Azerbaijan State University of Economics (UNEC), Baku, Azerbaijan

Organization/Publisher: International Quarterly of Geopolitics 

Original Language: English

Date/Place: Winter 2023 

Type of Literature: Journal Article

Number of Pages: 22

Link: https://acikerisim.sakarya.edu.tr/bitstream/handle/20.500.12619/98245/Sayyad%20Sadri%20Alibabalu.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

 

Keywords: Eastern Mediterranean, Geopolitics, Geo-economics, Rivalry, Turkey

 

Brief:

This article delves into the complex interplay between geopolitics and geoeconomics in the Eastern Mediterranean gas conflict. The authors specifically explore how the discovery and exploitation of natural gas reserves in the region have influenced power dynamics, foreign policies, and potential conflicts among the various coastal states and actors involved. As the authors ask, “How do these resources shape regional geopolitics, what are the interests and conflicts they have generated, and what are the potential implications and scenarios that might unfold in the near and medium-term future?”

 

The authors analyze Türkiye’s policies and strategies in this conflict, clarifying the multifaceted factors that shape the nation’s approach. It discusses the multifaceted geopolitical, geo-economic, and security challenges that arise from the discovery of natural gas resources in the Eastern Mediterranean Region and its potential implications for regional stability and global economics.

 

The authors examine how the competing interests of various stakeholders, including nations and international organizations, contribute to the intricate dynamics of the Eastern Mediterranean gas dispute. They highlight the geopolitical and geoeconomic considerations that influence Türkiye’s stance in the conflict, highlighting how these factors intersect and drive policy decisions. It offers insights into Türkiye’s efforts to establish its role as a key player in the Eastern Mediterranean’s energy landscape & explores its strategic maneuvers, diplomatic engagements, and negotiations as it navigates the complexities of this dispute. By scrutinizing Türkiye’s policies, the authors provide a deeper understanding of the motivations and strategies that underlie the nation’s actions in this high-stakes conflict. In summary, it provides a comprehensive analysis of the Eastern Mediterranean gas conflict’s geopolitics and geoeconomics, specifically focusing on Türkiye’s policies. 

 

The main points of the article are as follows:

  1. Eastern Mediterranean Growing Importance over the Last Decade: The Eastern Mediterranean has gained significance due to the region’s evolving geo-strategic and geoeconomic dimensions. The Mediterranean  links Europe, the Levant, the Arabian Peninsula, and North Africa, prompting various regional and non-regional actors to use economic, political, and military means to vie for influence.
  2. Interconnected Dynamics of the Region: There are four key dynamics: energy, geopolitical competition and power balance, regional developments (such as conflicts after 2011), and the involvement of global actors like the United States, Russia, the EU, and major European countries.
  3. Friction in the Region between Civilizations: The Mediterranean represents a crossroads of four distinct civilizations: Hellenic-Western, Arab, Ottoman-Turkish, and Hebrew. These civilizations intersect and sometimes clash, leading to complex geopolitical dynamics.
  4. Military and Naval Power: Türkiye possesses a strong naval force in the region, while Israel holds nuclear weapons. Adding to the complexity is the Türkiye-Greece dispute over sea borders, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. While the authors mention the recent efforts at normalization, it is worth mention that the current flare-up calls the future of normalization in question.
  5. Gas Reserves and Geo-economics: The economic development of Middle Eastern countries has revolved around oil and gas reserves. The Eastern Mediterranean follows this pattern, with gas reserves being used for strategic goals. The region’s gas reserves will shape new arrangements at the regional and global scale.
  6. Tensions and Conflicts: The discovery of new gas deposits in the Mediterranean has brought both prosperity and escalating tensions. Key actors like Cyprus and Türkiye vie for control over oil and gas reserves. The Eastern Mediterranean’s geopolitical interests often take precedence over purely economic goals.
  7. Geopolitics of Natural Gas: Unlike oil, natural gas trade involves pipelines and ships, making it more complex. The cost of pipelines and the interdependence of political relations between countries influence gas trade dynamics.
  8. Resource Competition: Historically, competition over resources has led to conflicts and their resolution. Recent significant gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean have fueled geopolitical rivalries among countries like Israel, Cyprus, Egypt, and Italy.
  9. Cooperation and Rivalry: Despite initial hopes for cooperation driven by mutual economic interests, geopolitical rivalries have hindered long-term collaboration among Eastern Mediterranean actors. The formation of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) reflects an attempt to align regional powers, but its full dimensions remain unclear.

These points collectively summarize the evolving geopolitical landscape, economic dynamics, and role of resources in shaping the Eastern Mediterranean region’s interactions and conflicts.

 

Türkiye’s long coastline along the Eastern Mediterranean is crucial for its internal security and power projection. It, however, faces opposition from Greece, Egypt, Cyprus, and Israel. In response to which it aims to enforce its rights based on international law while using force when necessary. In this regard, Türkiye’s approach in the Eastern Mediterranean resembles its policy in other crises of using hard power policy when necessary. 

 

The most significant contribution of this article lies in providing a nuanced understanding of how the interplay between geopolitics and geoeconomics shapes Türkiye’s approach to the conflict, adding depth and clarity to the existing literature.

 

By delving into the complexities of the Eastern Mediterranean gas conflict, the authors shed light on the intricate web of interests, strategies, and considerations that influence Türkiye’s stance. This article goes beyond a mere description of events, offering a systematic analysis of how geopolitical factors intersect with geo-economic considerations to guide Türkiye’s decisions in this regional dispute.

 

In doing so, the article bridges the gap between geopolitical analysis and economic considerations, highlighting how these dimensions interact to shape national policy. This interdisciplinary approach enhances the understanding of how nations navigate complex conflicts over valuable resources, offering relevant insights for scholars, policymakers, and practitioners engaged in energy conflicts, international relations, and regional dynamics.

 

The presence of energy resources in the region could exacerbate tensions and even lead to a regional conflict among states vying for these resources. However, on a more optimistic note, a different scenario suggests that shared economic interests stemming from these resources could serve as a foundation to foster improved relations in the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean.

 

I concur with the author’s observation regarding the firm stances adopted by the involved countries, coupled with the influence of external actors like the US, France, and Russia. The continuation of these conflicts might indeed push the region towards a perilous phase.

 

I also believe, like the author, that Russia, given its significant influence, particularly evident in the Syrian crisis, might possibly exploit its presence to trigger a fresh crisis, reinforcing the importance of its role in the region. 

 

Overall, the article’s contribution lies in its ability to unravel the intricate layers of Türkiye’s policy within the Eastern Mediterranean gas conflict, showcasing the intricate relationship between geopolitics and geoeconomics in a pivotal regional dispute.



By: Dilara Özdemir, CIGA Research Assistant

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