Sputnik talked to Emete Gözügüzelli, maritime law expert and Deputy Dean of the School of Law at the Northern Cyprus Branch of the Social Sciences University of Ankara, to discuss US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent visit to Greek Cyprus, its results, and its significance for key players in the region.
As part of his visit to Cyprus, Mike Pompeo met with Nicos Anastasiades, the leader of the Greek Cypriot community. Following the meeting, the US Secretary of State said that the ongoing tensions between Greece and Turkey in the region wouldn’t solve the problems in the Eastern Mediterranean.
“The United States is deeply concerned about Turkey’s actions in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Pompeo said. “Countries in the region need to resolve disagreements including on security and energy resources and maritime issues diplomatically and peacefully,” the American top diplomat said.
According to maritime law expert Emete Gözügüzelli, Deputy Dean of the School of Law at the Northern Cyprus Branch of the Social Sciences University of Ankara, while Turkey is making efforts to ensure the fair distribution of the island’s energy resources between the Turkish and Greek communities, the US is seeking to limit Russia’s influence in the region in accordance with its own interests.
The expert pointed to Turkey’s clear position on such issues as establishing peaceful relations and stability in the region.
“Meanwhile, Pompeo’s visit to the Greek part of the island and signing an agreement with the Greek Cypriots to establish a Security Centre is nothing more than a manifestation of Washington’s attempt to limit Russia’s influence in the region. The United States is using South Cyprus to thwart Russia’s geopolitical successes in the region and limit its ability to establish strategic dominance on the island,” she said.
“This agreement [to create a training centre in Larnaca, which will be called the Cyprus Centre for Land, Open Seas and Port Security, CYCLOPS] is a step aimed at creating obstacles for Russian ships to call at Southern Cyprus ports. Moreover, with its actions, Washington is trying to protect itself against China, whose New Silk Road strategy entails active actions in the Mediterranean. Thus, considering these factors, the United States is striving to strengthen its position in Cyprus,” she said.
Emete Gözügüzelli decried Pompeo’s statements regarding “US concerns over Turkey’s activities in the Eastern Mediterranean” as “superficial”.
“In fact, it is Turkey that has consistently advocated a peaceful solution to the issues of fair distribution of energy resources in the region, maritime borders determination etc. Pompeo’s call for peace amid moves aimed at further arming Southern Cyprus looks quite contradictory; what it does is harm the peace initiatives in the region.”
According to the expert, another contradiction in the US authorities’ actions regarding the island is that Washington “sings an agreement with South Cyprus as if it were a NATO member”.
“This US policy will continue in the future, since the Eastern Mediterranean is the largest international centre of geopolitical competition, due to a large number of promising untapped hydrocarbon deposits there. The United States is seeking to strengthen its presence in Cyprus to get a piece of that pie and secure its edge in energy allocation. That is why, for the US, the situation of chaos in the region is always the next step to implement their plans,” she concluded.
Tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean have been brewing for many months around Turkey’s gas exploration in waters which Cyprus and Greece claim as their exclusive economic zones. Turkey has dismissed the calls to leave the disputed waters and has conducted military exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean in response to drills organised by Greece, Cyprus, France and Italy this summer.
Greece has urged Turkey to immediately stop its “illegal” drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, warning that Athens will defend itself if necessary.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in turn, cautioned Athens against trying to stop Turkey from continuing its seismic survey activities to locate and identify sources of oil and gas in the eastern Mediterranean, stressing that Ankara is “determined to pay any price” to defend its national interests.