East Mediterranean tensions flare as Turkey seeks leverage in maritime border talks

Source:al Monitor Date:25Jul2020

The dispute is the latest episode in decadeslong tensions between Greece and Turkey over maritime borders in the eastern Mediterranean, where Ankara has been pursuing controversial gas drilling activities near Cyprus over the last year.

While Turkish officials say the activities are conducted to ensure the natural resource rights of both Turkey and the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC), Greek officials have increasingly sought support from European Union states to impose “crippling” economic sanctions on Ankara for what they deem to be infringements on Greek and Cypriot territories.

The most recent escalation comes after high-level talks were held in Berlin last week between Turkish and Greek officials. Though German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas condemned ongoing gas exploration activities Tuesday, calling on Ankara to stop “provocations” in the eastern Mediterranean, analysts say Turkish officials are pursuing such tactics to gain leverage in future negotiations over maritime delineations with Greece, which Ankara view as unfair.