3 main components that fuel tensions in the region

A dangerous conflict in the Eastern Mediterranean that Europe must address

Turkish naval maneuver in preparation for energy exploration.

From the source

At this time of year, political tensions rise in the eastern Mediterranean, which have become beaches for holidays and a destination for luxury yachts after the shores of Spain hit the Corona virus, but unfortunately for vacationers, the region is attracting warships, and tensions escalate between Greece and Turkey over the disputed waters. .

The collision between Greek and Turkish frigates on August 12 was the worst confrontation between two NATO allies since the dangerous confrontation on an uninhabited island in 1996, which nearly led to a war between the two countries.

In its quest for solidarity with Greece, which is a member of the European Union, France transferred two Rafale aircraft to the island of Crete, and deployed two warships for training with the Greek Navy.

And unless wise minds intervene, there is a risk that things will escalate further, and may even develop into bloody confrontations.

Three main components ignite tensions in this region. The first is the concern for gas resources in the region, which for a decade have been attracting attention not only from Greece and Turkey, but Cyprus, Israel, Egypt and others.

Several countries aspire to be a regional energy center, which would help supply the European market with fuel and provide a strategic alternative to Russian gas.

Backers had hoped that the pipelines stretching across the eastern Mediterranean would be a catalyst for regional cooperation, not war.

But this hope is fading in the midst of the rivalries between the countries of the region. Instead of cooperation, opportunities for energy friction increased.

Cyprus remains divided between a south controlled by Greek Cypriots, and a Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus that is recognized only by Turkey.

Last year, Turkey's drilling in the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus drew condemnation from the European Union and some (largely symbolic) sanctions.

Now Turkish ships are again conducting seismic surveys in Cypriot waters.

Relations between Greece and Turkey are always in danger of igniting the disputed territories.

The last friction began to form since the signing of an agreement between Turkey and the Libyan Government of National Accord last November.

German efforts tried to bring the Greeks and Turks together in talks to resolve the conflict, but earlier in August Greece and Egypt rushed to finalize an agreement on maritime zones that contradict the agreement between Turkey and Libya.

The Turkish response was to send a seismic research vessel to the area, with a marine escort.

What exacerbates all this is broader Turkish frictions from Libya to Syria, the third ingredient still brewing.

Both Turkey and France are at odds over the Libyan issue.

In June, Turkish warships prevented a French frigate from inspecting a ship suspected of carrying weapons to Libya.

However, the French retreated in the face of the Turks.

For their part, the Turks condemn the French intervention, and believe that Greece and its friends are rallying against it.

Turkey may feel emboldened because some countries, such as Britain, are keen to avoid antagonizing a NATO ally, while other European countries, especially Germany, fear that if Turkey is exposed to severe European pressure, it may cause chaos by allowing more migrants to enter Europe.

In the past, reliance was on America to intervene to resolve the conflict (as it did after the 1996 clash).

But the chaos in the eastern Mediterranean shows how this old order is starting to disintegrate, at any cost.

The French President, Emmanuel Macron, and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, were to find a solution to the conflict in the eastern Mediterranean during their meeting in Fort de Briganson on the Mediterranean.

Macron and Merkel's mediation could have proven effective in convincing Turkey that although it violated the rules, its concerns would be heard.

The priority is to create a breathing space between Greece and Turkey for serious talks to begin, and stopping exploration in the disputed waters might be a good start.

The hopeful signs are that given the current low energy prices, the major oil companies may delay more drilling near Cyprus, the transition to cleaner energy is afoot, and energy companies are becoming more selective in their investments.

The longer the rift between the leaders of the eastern Mediterranean, the greater the chance that the gas riches would remain below the seabed there.

The longer the rift between the leaders of the Eastern Mediterranean, the greater the chance that the gas wealth beneath the seabed would remain there.

The collision between Greek and Turkish frigates on August 12 was the worst confrontation between two NATO allies.

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