Blue Homeland: Turkey’s Strategy in the Eastern Mediterranean

The purpose of the Blue Homeland strategy is that Turkey should dominate the Mediterranean and reclaim the mercantile and maritime power once held by the Ottomans, writes Antonia Colibasanu.

 
Antonia Colibasanu is Geopolitical Futures’ Chief Operating Officer. Geopolitical Futures (GPF) was founded in 2015 by George Friedman, international strategist and author of The Next 100 Years. A longer version of this article can be found here.

As Turkey’s dreams of joining the European Union have faded, Ankara has shifted its strategy toward the West. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s latest moves – a visit to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the announcement of a resumption of Turkish energy exploration in the area – are meant to show that he will continue to pursue his neo-Ottoman “Mavi Vatan” (Blue Homeland) doctrine.

Whether development of any large finds in the Eastern Mediterranean would be viable in the current climate is questionable, but Turkey needs to deter conventional threats along its coastline, and under the circumstances, energy exploration may be the best excuse. At the same time, Erdoğan may use the potential for a new crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean to distract Turks from economic problems at home that threaten to destabilise his rule.

Erdoğan’s trip to Northern Cyprus came just three days after Turkey’s UN envoy spoke with the UN secretary-general about Greece’s “continuous flagrant violations” of international law in the Aegean and Mediterranean. Contravening the 1923 Lausanne Treaty, the envoy said, Athens has militarised islands near Turkey that are supposed to remain demilitarised.

Ultimately, Turkey wants to amend or cancel the treaty, which gave Greece sovereignty over the islands close to Turkey’s coast, including the right to explore for and extract natural resources from the sea, thus denying Turkey a significant exclusive economic zone.

While the opening of Varosha and the statements about a two-state solution for Cyprus made headlines, it is important to note that ahead of the visit Erdoğan also said Turkey will continue energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean. This declaration seems to undercut prior declarations promising no further provocations.

 
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Πηγή: euractiv.com

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