Turkish EastMed exploration mission ends, but more are likely to come

Turkey is set to conclude its current hydrocarbon exploration mission in the Eastern Mediterranean amid mounting regional tensions, namely with

Turkey EastMed

Photo: REUTERS/Yoruk Isik

Turkey is set to conclude its current hydrocarbon exploration mission in the Eastern Mediterranean amid mounting regional tensions, namely with Greece.

Ankara’s continued advancement of hydrocarbon exploration and its refusal to negotiate with Athens has led to disputes with the EU in the past. On this occasion, Athens claims the geological surveys conducted by Turkish survey vessel Oruc Reis in Greece’s Exclusive Economic Zone violates international law. Intended to keep the peace, an increased French naval presence in the EastMed has only further soured relations between the Brussels and Ankara.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently announced another exploratory mission off the coast of Cyprus. Attributing the country’s economic crisis (the lira is at record lows and inflation remains sky-high) to, in part, an energy trade deficit, Ankara is unlikely to cease exploration in the foreseeable future. Because Turkey will be so heavily dependent on energy imports from Iran, Iraq and Russia in the short-term, EU attempts at a diplomatic resolution will likely be complicated as the Turkish president has affirmed his desire to be a “net exporter of energy”. With the recent discovery of a massive gas field in the Black Sea and little desire to negotiate, expect Erdogan to push on with his vision of an energy-independent Turkey.

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