The tension between Greece and Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean continues
feverishly. This is because countries can not compromise with other countries to protect
their interests. A legal solution seems difficult due to the limited enforcement power of
The latest tension between the two countries is that the Turkish ship " Oruç Reis" was
sent to search for oil and natural gas in Cyprus. Greece considered this a violation of
sovereign rights and sent warships to the region. This situation has been criticized harshly by
Turkey. President Erdogan also announced that Turkey will react harshly if established
If we consider the event on the basis of international law; The U.N. Convention on the
Law of the Sea asserts that countries may claim a territorial sea extending up to 12 nautical
miles (nm) from their coasts including the sovereignty of offshore oil underwater. Also,
distances of countries up to 200 miles are considered as Exclusive Economic Zone. In other
words, they have the right to benefit from this region economically.
Implementation of this law that is written in countries such as Greece and Turkey are
close together, it becomes difficult. Normally the 12-mile limit was reduced to 6 miles with
the Turkey-Greece because of the proximity. But Greece’s desire to raise this border again
strained the relations. Turkey said it would be a casus belli. Although it seems difficult for the
two NATO countries to fight, it is certain that the tension between them will increase if it is
not resolved diplomatically.
As I mentioned before, international law expects the countries to come to an
agreement and to be resolved since it is not fully authorized on sanctions. Control of small
islands between the two countries to be given to Greece opposes Turkey. And it claims to
have the right to extract oil in these regions. This causes countries to not agree among
Turkey began tracking a tougher stance on foreign policy after the economic
slowdown. From this rule, it is extremely insistent on defending his rights in the Eastern
The Mediterranean. Other European countries see Turkey as a threat and so they do not support it.
The only way to solve this situation seems to be that the two countries agree to share
oil resources in the region. Otherwise, the disagreement on the issue will cause further strain
in the relations between the two countries.
This article is written by Esma Kaya