“Double blow” for Turkey

16.07.2019

The European Union has suspended financial assistance to Turkey and interrupted the dialogue at the highest level. In a dispute over gas, the EU sided with the Greeks. If, in addition to this, Donald Trump will impose sanctions because of the S-400, the Turkish economy and President Erdogan will face great difficulties

The Turks did not have time to come to their senses after the blackmail of Washington because of the S-400, as its partner across the Atlantic throws Recep Erdogan with new threats: the European Union imposed sanctions against Turkey.

In the light of "ongoing and new illegal drilling operations", the EU foreign ministers decided to suspend negotiations on the Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement and called on the European Investment Bank to "revise" lending to Turkey in the amount of 146 million euros. Brussels has canceled the holding of the EU-Turkey Association Council and plans to introduce additional measures, including individuals and companies developing gas fields in Cyprus.

The conflict between the Turks and Europeans was aggravated by the Greeks. In the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus there are two ships - "Fatih" and "Yavuz" - engaged in gas exploration. The authorities of Greece and Cyprus consider them illegal and violating the Cyprus borders.

The Turkish side justifies geological exploration in “foreign territory” by the fact that not only Greeks live on the island, but also Turks, and the latter have equal rights to the region’s natural resources.

As you know, Cyprus is divided into two parts. 60 percent of its territory is controlled by the Greeks, 38 percent are Turks. The remaining two percent fall on the demarcation line, guarded by the British Armed Forces. This alignment is due to the events of 1974. Then there was a coup on the island, and the National Organization of Cypriot fighters came to power, intending to annex Cyprus to Greece.

In Ankara, they saw this as a threat to the Turkish minority and sent 30,000 troops to Cyprus. In 1983, the Turkish community proclaimed the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), a state recognized only by Ankara.

Gas of contention

If before the dispute around Cyprus was of ethno-religious and political nature, today it is also an economic one. The turning point was 2011. Then, on the Cyprus shelf, a giant Aphrodite field was discovered with 230 billion cubic meters of gas. Not far from it were found Israeli "Tamar" and "Leviathan", as well as the Egyptian "Zohr". The development of "blue fuel" involved large Western companies.

Ankara does not like the fact that the Greeks may deprive the Turks of their share in the “gas pie”. In order to prevent ENI from extracting gas for the Greeks and to protect its own drilling rigs, the Turkish Navy from time to time conduct exercises in the Mediterranean Sea and force their warships to Cyprus.

Due to the membership of Cyprus and Greece in the EU, Brussels does not recognize the TRNC and, accordingly, the rights of the Turks to gas reserves. The position of the European Union is also justified by business interests, because the French Total and the Italian ENI are involved in the region.

Judging by the reaction from Ankara, gas disassembly of the EU and Turkey will work in accordance with the third law of Newton: the more actively the EU will put pressure on Turkey, the greater will be the resistance.

The decisions of Brussels "will not affect our determination to continue drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean at any cost," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said. Mevlüt авavusoglu’s office reminded that EU sanctions were adopted on the third anniversary of the attempted coup in Turkey, hinting that the West is still seeking the removal of Recep Erdogan. Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy threatened with an “asymmetric response” if Nicosia tried to arrest members of the Fatih vessel.

What will the sanctions of Europe lead to?

The EU’s policy on resolving the Cyprus problem is inconsistent. The EU does not take into account the realities of the region and periodically raises the issue of a Cyprus settlement, trying to impose on the parties, including through sanctions, their own vision of a solution to the problem, and in an expedited manner.

Turkey, too, goes too far, threatening to use force. At the same time, the EU should take a more balanced position, and not try to resolve energy disputes in its favor with sanctions.

Turkey certainly reacted disproportionately. However, you need to understand that Cyprus for her - "vulnerable underbelly." Therefore, the European Union should reconsider its yesterday’s sanctions decision.

"Second front"

The non-constructive position is demonstrated not only by the EU, but also by the authorities in Nicosia. The leader of the TRNC, Mustafa Akinci, invited the Cyprus President Nikos Anastasiadis to discuss joint administration of gas issues. But, according to the newspaper Katimerini, the government and the leaders of the parties of Cyprus reject the proposal Akinci.

A dispute over gas fields opened against the "second front" against Turkey. Earlier, Erdogan opposed the United States, which threatened to “punish” him for acquiring the S-400, now the main trade partner of Turkey, the European Union, has challenged him. Given that the EU accounts for 50% of Ankara's turnover, restrictive measures will have a very painful effect on the already weakened Turkish economy.