The regional discord in the Eastern Mediterranean is not just an issue of energy resources, but a strategic issue of sovereignty and maritime delimitation on the natural resources.
Energy resources in the region should be used as an opportunity for multilateral cooperation, not as a source of political friction and tension.
De-escalation, refraining from unilateral actions, dialogue and the start of negotiations without pre-conditions are essential for finding an equitable solution and to make the Eastern Mediterranean a region of peace and prosperity.
A peaceful and long-term solution in the Eastern Mediterranean needs to involve all the coastal states and it is clear that “Pax Mediterranea” cannot be achieved without considering the rights and interests of Turkey as well as the Turkish Cypriots.
The history of European integration founded on the European Coal and Steel Community proved that developing economic relations based on cooperation can lead towards peaceful conflict resolution and long-term and sustainable cooperation. The same approach needs to be followed in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The long-standing bilateral disputes in the Aegean Sea and the multilateral disputes in the East-Med should be undertaken as a whole, not as isolated cases.
The long-standing issues between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean and the EU membership of Southern Cyprus in 2004 despite not having reached a comprehensive solution in the island after the rejection of the Annan Plan by the Greek Cypriots are interlinked with today’s maritime delimitation issues in the East Med as well as the need for an equitable sharing of natural resources.
All these issues should be addressed through a dialogue process as a matter of urgency. As the first step of this process, the exploratory talks between Turkey and Greece interrupted in 2016 need to start without any pre-conditions to achieve meaningful progress. All outstanding disagreements can be solved on the basis of international law.