Projecting for Control of Warm Waters: Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean

*Written by Dr Yiorghos Leventis

 

As oil started to be pumped out of the Middle East, Cyprus served as London's outpost securing the uninterrupted flow of the vital energy resource for the formidable industrial machine of the British Isles. It is no coincidence that Sir Anthony Eden explained in strong and unyielding words, the British government's position in Cyprus clear and flat. Without bothering to clothe it in the familiar language of imperialistic idealism, Sir Anthony defined Britain's stake in one word: oil. He stressed:

Our country's industrial life and that of Western Europe, depend today, and must depend for many years, on oil supplies from the Middle East. If ever our oil resources were imperiled, we should be compelled to defend them. The facilities we need in Cyprus are part of that. No Cyprus, no certain facilities to protect our supply of oil. No oil, unemployment and hunger in Britain. It is as simple as that.[1]

 

 

Before the ink of the signatures under the text of the three Treaties (Establishment, Guarantee, Alliance: 1960) which established the Republic of Cyprus under the guardianship of the UK, Greece and Turkey, dried, Eden underlined: 'The value of the compromise will depend upon the spirit in which it is worked and upon acceptable arrangements for our military bases.' (Anthony Eden: Full Circle, London, 1960) Once again, with his remark, the visionary British statesman places emphasis on the importance for his own country of the guaranteed, uninterrupted and unfettered use of the British military bases in order that Middle Eastern oil flows without disruption to the British Isles. To be sure, Eden's emphasis on the Cyprus bases comes at a peak time of British decolonization.

2011: Discovery of Natural Gas Reserves - New Geostrategic Alliances?

Time honoured Eden's assessment of the strategic value of Cyprus and his determination to maintain strategic control over it as an indispensable station post towards the energy rich Middle East is proven true. In fact fifty five years after the creation of the Cyprus British bases, the island's geo-energy value received an extra boost: at the end of 2011, it became clear that the Exclusive Economic Zone the Republic of Cyprus is entitled to, is blessed with substantial natural gas if not also oil reserves. On November 15, Noble Energy of Texas US, under license to drill for gas in both Cyprus and Israel's EEZ announced that Cyprus' Block 12 has estimated gross mean resource range of 3 to 9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and a 60% probability of geological success.

To put matters into perspective: three trillion cubic feet (tcf), which is the lower estimate, is enough gas to cover the needs of the one million or so islanders (on both sides of the island) for over hundred years (some energy analysts argue for two centuries). However, exploitable gas reserves may actually stand at the upper end estimate of 9 tcf for block 12 while the Cyprus government, as these lines are being drawn, is auctioning the remaining twelve parcels calling for interested parties to submit tenders within ninety days. Already drilling, Noble Energy announced that it is keen to bid for a second block.

Fifty kilometres away from Cyprus' Block 12 lies the rich Israeli gas field Leviathan carrying an estimated sixteen tcf of gas which is also drilled by Noble. The importance of the gas reserves in the Cypro-Israeli maritime interface is underlined by the first ever visit of an Israeli Head of Government to Nicosia. Benjamin Netanyahu paid a day visit to the Republic on 16 February 2012. Energy cooperation was at the top of his agenda whereas some political observers talk also about a burgeoning but rapidly expanding defence cooperation in the face of Turkish threats.

In September 2011, two Israeli Air Force (IAF) fighter jets flew conspicuously along the south coast of Turkey, at the northern limits of the Nicosia FIR as recognized internationally - save for Ankara. The two fighters flew through St. Andrew Bay of Mersin and from there to Phoenicia, near the Greek island of Kastellorizo, in some cases approaching the Turkish coast at a distance of fifteen miles. The control tower of the Ercan (Tymbou) airport (recognized only by Turkey), tried to contact them, but the Israeli pilots ignored their attempts showing that they recognize the sovereignty of Cyprus in the entire Nicosia FIR.[2]

In January 2012, both the Commerce and Industry Minister and the Defence Minister of Cyprus shuttled to Tel Aviv. The much acclaimed at the time of its construction in the late 1990s Andreas Papandreou Air Base, Pafos, on the southwest coast of the island, fell into neglect as the Greece-Cyprus Defence Pact degenerated. Apparently, the air base will come out of its disuse with Israeli fighter jets using it on the basis of a 'touch and go' arrangement.[3] Furthermore, according to some Israeli sources, Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defence Minister, has asked the Cypriots [Republic of Cyprus] to allow Israel to station military aircraft at the Papandreou Air Base.[4] As defence cooperation got off the ground the two countries are expected to engage in regular exercises.[5]

From now on the question is whether Christofias and Netanyahu will go the extra mile to agree on the stationing of a squadron of Israeli fighter jets at the Pafos Air Base. Lacking an Air Force, the National Guard, Cyprus' Armed Forces, have had to make operational defence plans bound in the limits of this serious handicap, for half a century. In the past, within the space of ten years, they bitterly learnt twice (1964 and 1974) that they had to put up inferior land forces resistance while the Turkish Air Force, practically unobstructed, pounded their positions whilst also dropping on Cypriot land hundreds of airborne troops.[6] Naturally, Cypriots have today, all the reason to seek to reverse the air superiority of the Turkish Air Force by entering into an air defence pact with Israel, the region's heavyweight and latter day bitter adversary of Turkey.

The final outcome of the exploitation, the degree to which this vital natural resource will prove to be a blessing and not a curse will depend upon the spirit in which it is worked, to borrow the all-too-relevant remark of Anthony Eden half a century ago. There is little doubt that the discovery of vital natural resources in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea is already producing far reaching geo-political consequences. In the limited space of the current paper, let us examine the main ones:

First, as soon as Texas-based Noble Energy announced the discovery in November 2011, the US State Department of State created the Bureau of Energy Resources (ENR) reflecting the emphasis the US places on energy in the wider region in general and in Cyprus in particular. Karen Enstrom, the regional officer of the new ENR, is now assigned to establish her headquarters in the US Embassy, Nicosia, for the diplomatic involvement of the US in energy developments in the Mediterranean, South Europe and North Africa. The US Bureau of Energy Resources is headed by Carlos Pascual, State Department's Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs. Mr. Pascual is former US Ambassador to Mexico and Ukraine.

Enstrom's mission will, reportedly, be to help facilitate and manage geopolitical developments as regards energy by enhancing diplomatic relations with the main energy producers and consumers in the region and by promoting US access to energy in developing countries. She will also be expected to boost the energy market forces by differentiating the current policies concerning alternative energy, electricity and energy development.[7]

Second, the gas bonanza may potentially be a catalyst for the settlement of the sad political-cum-geographical division of Cyprus, a result of the Turkish invasion and continuing occupation of the northern third of the island since 1974. We may recall that the donors' conference called in Brussels in order to voluntarily finance the UN plan of 2004 failed dismally to secure the necessary funds to finance the proposed settlement. The so-called Annan plan was in any case rejected by an overwhelming majority of the Greek Cypriots - 76 per cent was the vote against. Seven years later, with the discovery and prospective exploitation of natural resources, one can easily infer that the prospects are coming into place for Cypriots to self-finance a just and thus viable settlement of the so far intractable Cyprus problem.

Having said that, it is my humble opinion that the settlement of the Cyprus imbroglio hinges upon a constructive stance by Ankara, the rising regional power with high stakes not only in the island but in the region at large.

On the one hand, efforts to reach a Cyprus settlement are heightened. First, we witness a more active involvement of the UN Secretary General. Ban Ki-moon appears to be fully engaged in the negotiating process: he has urged the two leaders to iron out their remaining differences, to use the UN jargon, in two recent meetings in New York, the first in October 2011 and the second in January 2012. Second, we equally witness an all too compromising stance of the Cyprus government: the Christofias administration despite the internal opposition criticism that he comes up with premature offers to the Turkish side, has pledged that any prospective proceeds out of the natural resources exploitation are guaranteed to be used for the interests of both Cypriot communities - a promise[8], it should be noted, that comes on top of a raft of post-2004 measures in favour of the Turkish Cypriot community.

On the other hand, Turkey, in the guise of a 'hydrocarbon hegemon', issues threats and provocative statements regarding not only the Republic of Cyprus, which she stubbornly refuses to recognize, but also vis-a-vis the European Union, the very club that Ankara seeks to join in a futile effort that dates back to the 1960s. Abdullah Gul, the Turkish President calls Cyprus 'half a country' and the EU 'a miserable union'. Slipping tongue or truthful admission of Turkish steadfast perception of the island? Even, if we accept that that was Gul's slip of tongue, it tells the truth. Gul's comments do not augur well, all the more so, having been uttered in London at the conclusion of an official visit (23 November 2011). For long time, the UK has assumed the role of the champion, par excellance, of Turkish full participation in the 'miserable' European Union. One wonders why? To make the EU even more miserable? Interestingly, David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, steered clear of any statement on the Cyprus front avoiding at the same time a response to Gul's arrogant remarks on the EU.

In the light of the increased UN efforts to reach a settlement and the compromising stance of the Greek Cypriot side, one would have expected at least the avoidance of derogatory if not inflammatory statements which are bound to be perceived as unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of the European Union, if not by all, certainly by the absolute majority of its member-states; more so by the two heavy weight Turco-sceptics, Germany and France. I would seriously doubt that Gul's London remarks would gain any ground for his country's EU membership chances in the corridors of power in Paris or Berlin.

It is incumbent upon Turkey as the rising regional power, already a major energy hub, member of the G20 (16th biggest economy in the world), staunch NATO ally equipped with the second biggest army in the Alliance, boasting a military manpower equivalent more or less to the demographic size of the entire Greek Cypriot community to show a measure of compromising attitude if not straightforward magnanimity with a view to a lasting settlement in Cyprus.

However, one would ask: what are Ankara's objectives with respect to Cyprus? Are these related to the promotion of a solution beneficial to the people of Cyprus, Greek and Turkish Cypriots, or is Turkey seeking the perpetuation of the system of a vassal half-baked state, half-a-country, to use Gul's derogatory remark?

Lest we forget, it is the whole of Cyprus that acceded by the Treaty of Accession to the EU in 2004. Implementation of the acquis communautaire suspended in the northern part of the island pending a political settlement: that is to say the internal restructuring and re-distribution of power within the Republic of Cyprus.

Treating UNCLOS A La Carte: Turkey's Double Standards 

Cyprus has reached and ratified EEZ delimitation agreements with its eastern and southern neighbours: Israel and Egypt. Agreement with Lebanon has also been reached, pending ratification before the Lebanese parliament. Under the provisions of the United Nations Convention Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) III, an EEZ is a sea zone over which a state has special rights over the exploration and use of marine sources, including production of energy from water and wind.[9]

What is Turkey's posture on this crucial question regarding the agreed distribution of natural wealth in the Eastern Mediterranean? Steadfastly following its consistent yet unproductive, if not provocative, policy of non-acceptance of the undeniable fact of the internationally recognized state status of the Republic of Cyprus (full member of the UNO and of the EU and a signatory to UNCLOS to which Turkey is not) Ankara effectively questions the Republic of Cyprus' entitlement to drill in its own EEZ. Hence the overtures to Cyprus' neighbours in the first instance not to sign and after the signature to repeal their EEZ delimitation agreements with the RoC.

It is worth noting in this connection the importance of the afore-mentioned agreements on the delimitation of the EEZ between on the one hand Cyprus, an island state, and on the other hand, Egypt, Lebanon and Israel which are coastal states in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Importantly, these treaties send certain signals to Ankara.

First, the concluded EEZ bilateral agreements prove that a fundamental and principled practice forms their basis: namely that the coastal states south and east of Cyprus treat the latter as an equal and equitable partner in the delimitation of their respective EEZs, exactly as the UNCLOS III provides regarding the regime of islands: " ... the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the EEZ and the continental shelf of an island are determined in accordance with the provisions of this Convention applicable to other land territory.[10] It is abundantly clear that the UNCLOS does not differentiate between 'colossal' coastal states and small island states with regard to their maritime rights. Accordingly, the EEZ boundary with Cyprus was delimitated along the median sea water line. This is particularly significant in the case of the conclusion of the bilateral EEZ delimitation with Egypt. The Arab Republic of Egypt (ARE) has over a million square kilometres of territory, 2450 kilometres of coastline of which roughly 900 kilometres lies on the Mediterranean Sea and a population of 84 million.[11] Cyprus has 9,251 square kilometres of land, a total coastline of 648 kilometres of which less than half forms the south coast facing Egypt and a population of just a million.[12] In other words, Egypt is the region's top heavyweight - surpassing Turkey itself in all three counts of sizes - next to which Cyprus is dwarfed. However, the ARE abides by international law and treats the RoC as an equal partner delimitating their respective EEZs equidistantly.[13]

Second, of even more importance is the fact that Israel, another of the region's heavyweights, in terms of economic might and military strength, also concluded an EEZ with the RoC on the basis of equality of rights. Once more the median line was the yardstick. Israel, Turkey's rival for regional influence, like Ankara, has not signed the dotted line on the internationally agreed text of UNCLOS III. However, the recent (December 2010) conclusion of an agreement for the sea demarcation line between Cyprus and Israel[14] constitutes on the one hand corroboration of the RoC's sovereignty while on the other hand shows that in practice Israel, though a non-signatory, abides by the UNCLOS provisions.

The above two discussed EEZ agreements, along with the third one agreed yet to be ratified agreement of Cyprus with Lebanon have far-reaching implications for the stability and the rule of international law in the turbulent Eastern Mediterranean region. If anything, the provisions of UNCLOS increasingly become customary international law for state signatories and non-signatories alike.

Nevertheless, Turkish maritime policy seeks to limit the islands' entitlement to their own EEZ, territorial waters and continental shelf.[15] The Turkish line has serious repercussions vis-a-vis the potential delimitation of all three zones with Greece in the Aegean and the Mediterranean Sea (vide: the case of Kastellorizo) and of course in the case of Cyprus. Although entitled to do so under the UNCLOS III provisions, Athens refrains so far from claiming its own EEZ - to which is a signatory - in the face of Turkish threats on Greece's right to extension of territorial waters to twelve nautical miles (22 kms). Turkey has yet to lift its casus belli issued against Greece if the latter goes ahead with extension of its territorial waters. In a remarkably hypocritical and pharisaic fashion, Ankara has extended its own territorial waters to the limit allowed by UNCLOS in the Black and in the Mediterranean Sea.[16] Yet successive Turkish governments refuse to sign up to UNCLOS III preferring to treat international law, as in the case of Cyprus, as an a la carte menu.

As stated above, the UN Convention Law of the Sea provides that every state, island or coastal, is entitled to special rights over the exploration and use of marine sources in its own EEZ.

Feeding Turkish Pipelines Carries Danger of Feeding Hydrocarbon Hegemony

Taken at its face value the Turkish argument implies that Cyprus is non-existent on the map of EEZ delimitations in the Eastern Mediterranean. In other words, according to Ankara's logic, the sea zones in the region for the purposes of exploration and use of natural resources should be divided between Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Israel. Thus Ankara seeks to exclude Cyprus and Greece, the southeastern most island of which, Kastellorizo, with 430 inhabitants lies 170 miles west of Cyprus but just one mile off the Turkish coast. However, under UNCLOS provisions, any populated island with human economic activity on it, is entitled to full rights in its own EEZ.[17]

Some Turkish Cypriot analysts argue that the Turkish position vis-a-vis Cyprus, at least, stems from Ankara's policy of non-recognition of the RoC. That it is a by-product of the protracted non-settlement phase of the Cyprus conflict.[18] This may be true. However, it is equally true that the RoC is a fully-recognized state that exists under international law and as such exercises its sovereign rights, one of which is the demarcation of its sea borders with neighbouring states and the subsequent exploitation of its bilaterally demarcated EEZ natural resources.

Given the limited confines of this short paper, suffices to state that the RoC is recognized by all UN member-states save for Turkey. And more central to the debate on hydrocarbons and regional politics, to which this paper aspires to contribute: it is of great significance that the sovereign status of the RoC is not a dead letter as far as its neighbours are concerned - save once more for Turkey. Israel, Egypt and Lebanon, as amply explained above, have entered negotiations and concluded EEZ agreements with Nicosia, demonstrating in practice that they abide by international law - in this case UNCLOS - and respect the sovereignty of the RoC. In order to conclude the region's EEZs picture: discussions have also been under way for the sea demarcation with Syria. However, as the country is increasingly plunging into the abyss of civil war it is unlikely that these will continue until Syria pacifies and a freshly legitimized regime comes into place in Damascus. As for Greece, as explained above, Athens has not yet entered into the phase of negotiating the EEZ demarcation line with Cyprus for the Turkish casus belli is still holding. Heavily struck by the worst debt crisis in its modern history, Athens, naturally, keeps the lowest possible profile on any issue that may exacerbate confrontation with its eastern neighbour.[19]

Turkey's hegemonic approach, bypassing international law, may be explained in the context of the rising ambitions of regional power - the neo-Ottoman grand scheme projecting a blend of soft and hard power from the Balkans to Western Asia to North Africa - it is not too difficult to infer what Ankara is driving at: in all probability to tap on the island's sea and land resources - as last December's Famagusta drilling agreement reveals - feed her own pipelines easily and cost effectively in order to field herself as the region's unrivalled hydrocarbon hegemon. What would such an ambitious Turkish scenario mean for Turko-European and regional balances in turbulent western Asia? If Turkey gets away with devouring the Eastern Mediterranean basin energy resources, circumventing international law, Ankara will be holding a disproportional leverage: a) over the EU at a time of an ongoing and deepening internal European crisis b) over its regional rivals at a time of enormous fluidity, instability and uncertainty about the political future in the Arab countries - and exceptionally in Syria with which it shares a 900-kilometre long common border. Moreover, it will empower Ankara to manipulate Europe and the West as they are always engaged in a rather endless search for a powerful, purportedly West-oriented proxy, who would be willing to perform the role of the region's strategic ally, the western democracy and stability model exporter. Probably, in the eyes of certain policy-makers in Brussels and Washington, Ankara fits the bill. However, we should remind ourselves, that in the recent past (for example: US invasion of Iraq in 2003) Ankara proved to be a recalcitrant partner - if not an altogether independent player - in the West's designs for the Arab and Muslim world.

Feeding an already hydro-cum-hydrocarbon hegemon Turkey with the prospective Eastern Mediterranean energy resources, which, in any case, mostly, she is not entitled to, will run the risk of Ankara holding both the EU and the wider Western Asia and North Africa hostage to its neo-Ottoman designs since the former will be in control of the supply of probably the greater part of the region's energy resources. In such a Turkish-inspired self-serving scenario it is next to impossible to identify room for small regional partners like Cyprus to play a new important role in the EU's and Western Asia's energy security.

In such a hydrocarbon hegemon scenario where Turkey gets the upper hand in the exploitation of our island's natural resources, the indigenous Turkish Cypriot community, eager to free itself from the chronic patronization of Ankara stands little chance to achieve this noble emancipation goal. As attested by the UN Secretary General as well as Turkish Cypriot press reports Ankara has effectively turned northern Cyprus into its largest military base to the dislike of the autochthonous Turkish Cypriot population. Last year, in repeated mass demonstrations in North Nicosia, the Turkish Cypriots demonstrated in their thousands, their fervent desire to throw away the yoke of Ankara.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* The above text is the full version of the paper presented at the FES-PRIO Cyprus Centre Conference: Cyprus Offshore Hydrocarbons: Wealth Distribution and Regional Politics, Chateau Status, Nicosia Buffer Zone, 26 November 2011. The collective volume of the conference proceedings, sponsored by the German Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, is in print, expected to be circulated in English, Greek and Turkish in June 2012.

 

 

[1] Conservative Party Convention, Norwich, UK, 11 June 1956.

[2]ΟΦιλελεύθερος (O Phileleftheros), Greek Cypriot daily, 29 Sep. 2011.

[3] Conversations with a former Cyprus Minister of Defence and the Israeli Ambassador in Nicosia, January to March 2012.

[4] http://israelmatzav.blogspot.com/2012/02/israel-to-station-fighter-jets-in.html (accessed 23 March 2012) Nevertheless, confidential information obtained from Dr. Hubert Faustmann, University of Nicosia, alleges that Papandreou Air Base has yet to be used by IAF fighters (to touch down and/or refueled at the base). On the other hand, some other Greek Cypriot source who did not wish to be indentified told the author that Netanyahu touched down at the Pafos base before officially landing at Larnaka International Airport.

[5]http://www.cyprus.gov.cy/MOI/pio/pio.nsf/All/7B6E8CBF2B8CE13EC2257981002F8CC0?OpenDocument: The press release issued by the Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office after the conclusion of Demetris Eliades', the Cypriot Minister of Defence, first official visit to Israel talks of the signing of "two agreements for defence cooperation and for protection and exchange of classified information." (accessed 23 March 2012)

[6] Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) Attila I & II Operations of invasion of Cyprus, 20 July - 16 August 1974. Earlier, in the first incursion of August 1964, the Turkish Air Force dropped napalm bombs causing Greek Cypriot civilian casualties in the northwest part of the island.

[7] "US Appoints Energy Officer to Nicosia Embassy to cover the region", Cyprus Mail, 9 February 2012, page 5.

[8] Today's Zaman with Reuters, 22 September 2011, Istanbul (Constantinople): http://www.todayszaman.com/news-257606-greek-cyprus-promises-to-share-gas-proceeds-with-turkish-cypriots.html (accessed 23 March 2012).

[9] UNCLOS III, Part V: Exclusive Economic Zone, Article 56.

[10] UNCLOS III, Part VIII, Article 121: Regime of Islands (emphasis added to illustrate this crucial point).

[11] CIA Factbook: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/eg.html (accessed 27 March 2012)

[12] CIA Factbook: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cy.html (accessed 27 March 2012).

[13] The Cyprus-Egypt EEZ delimitation agreement was negotiated over a period of some years, signed on 17 February 2003 and ratified on 7 March 2004. (Amb. A. Jacovides: Some Aspects of the Law of the Sea: Islands, Delimitation and Dispute Settlement Revisited, Rhodes, Greece, 9 July 2004, p. 26)

[14] Cyprus and Israel sign deal demarcating sea borders: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/cyprus-and-israel-sign-deal-demarcating-sea-borders-1.331160 (accessed 27 March 2012)

 

[15] The Turkish position, reportedly, supports that negotiations on the delimitations need to take into account the particular geographic and demographic circumstances. The clear implication being that Ankara claims a larger share both in the Aegean and the Mediterranean Sea on the basis of the argument that it has an extensive coastline and a large population size (80 million: est. July 2012, CIA Factbook). If the international community accepts such a dangerous argument, the world will no doubt experience more, possibly armed, conflicts than solve the existing ones on a global scale. For instance, China, which is ten times larger than Japan in population size, will be seeking to 'devour' the natural resources of the Sea of Japan which divides the two Far Eastern giants.

[16] CIA Factbook asserts that "the Turkish Navy is a regional naval power that wants to develop the capability to project power beyond Turkey's coastal waters; the [Turkish] Navy is heavily involved in NATO, multinational, and UN operations; its roles include control of territorial waters and security for sea lines of communications": https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/tu.html (accessed 26 March 2012)

[17] UNCLOS III, Part IV, Article 121: Regime of Islands makes clear that only 'rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no EEZ or continental shelf.'

[18] Discussion with Dr. Ayla Gurel, PRIO Cyprus Centre, March 2012.

[19] However, Greek New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras in a recent visit in Nicosia (February 2012) stated that Greece should follow Cyprus' path in delimitating its EEZ. According to the most recent polls Samaras is widely expected to win the forthcoming elections in May and take power.

 


 

 

Comments  

A few observations
written by Dean Plassaras, April 06, 2012 

1. Turkey is not a rising regional power in the context of Europe. The European regional powers are: UK, France, Germany, Italy and Russia. Turkey is a regional power in the part of Middle East where every country is a regional power: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are all regional powers. However, Turkey can not surpass Israel's regional power status which has both nuclear and the full support of the US defense mechanisms.

2. Regardless of the pipelines designed to pass through Turkey the fact remains the same. Unless such pipelines can carry reasonably priced natural gas there is no obligation for the EU consumers to buy such gas. As things stand - with the abundance of shale gas and US discoveries on American soil - natural gas is only at 1/3 of the price that could make it viable and marketable as pipeline gas for a European destination. The completion of Nord Stream has put an end to Nabucco.

3. On the key issue of the EEZ. Both Israel and Cyprus, as well as the applicable EU law guidelines recognize the median line as the only acceptable form of EEZ delineation; and as such they have pretty much settled any EEZ disputes in practical terms. Greece can not arbitrarily define her EEZ for the benefit of Libya, Egypt and Turkey. Greece has to follow European Law and European custom. As Mr. Nikos Lygeros keep saying the next step for Greece is "thespisis" (adaptation of the EEZ methodology). Oriothetisis (delineation) follows but it does not mean that those resisting the median line concept will ever prevail. It only means that the outcome is inevitable, however it may take a few years to carry through and get to the final destination.