The winds of change are fast approaching the coast of the East Mediterranean.
Regional countries’ foreign ministers had recently convened to render functional the East Mediterranean Gas Forum, which had been established to increase cooperation and partnership in the region.
This platform had been built with the participation of countries that share coasts to the East Mediterranean: Egypt, the Greek Administration of Southern Cyprus, Jordan, Greece, Italy, Israel and Palestine.
Its main goal was to establish cooperation between member countries in the field of energy and at the same time ostracize Turkey and Northern Cyprus. This is why these two countries were specifically excluded from this forum.
Furthermore, Libya, which signed a maritime agreement with Ankara, was also barred from this platform.
The tide is turning in the East Mediterranean
Now, the balances are shifting in the region; in other words, a new era is being ushered in in the East Mediterranean.
The maritime agreement signed between Tripoli and Ankara encompasses both the borders of the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf. In addition to the East Mediterranean, this agreement has introduced a new balance of power to Libya.
With the advances the Libyan Government of National Accord has made against warlord Khalifa Haftar and its current and future position, a pivotal change is on the horizon. The rapport between Ankara and Tripoli, the latest advances of the GNA, their zeal to increase cooperation in the fields of drilling, production and business: all these could compel other regional countries to want in on this partnership.
Turkey has been conducting drilling activities in the East Med for a while now. However, it is now clear that its hydrocarbon drilling and production operations in Libya will propel changes in the field of economy, as well as politics. So much so that a process might be kick-started to sign new maritime deals in the East Mediterranean.
Because Turkey’s maritime agreement will provide a great deal of advantages to primarily Egypt, which is currently in a deadlock, in terms of the exclusive economic zone.
Budding partnerships in the region
Apart from Greece and Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean, the region includes Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt.
Even though these countries are at loggerheads politically, it is important to keep in mind that energy plays a key role in thawing ties and boosting multilateral relations.
The situation between Russia and Turkey is exemplary. Even though they have their differences, we have observed that they are steadfastly continuing their cooperation in the field of energy.
What’s more is that Greece and Southern Cyprus treating the East Med as their own backyard is now unthinkable, hence regional actors as well as international energy firms will change their tune; and we can also expect that their relations with Turkey will undergo a transformation.
Because we shouldn't forget that the maritime agreement Turkey signed with Libya sent a
strong message regarding Ankara’s East Med policy on law and politics.
On the other hand, as energy prices fall, Turkey has the upper hand with its geographical location when we take into consideration the topic of East Med resources being put on the market with much lower prices. Even if regional countries don't frequently express this, it is the foundation upon which their reasoning rests.
Hence, it is possible to ascertain that a new era has been initiated in the East Mediterranean and also that regional geopolitics will go through major changes.