World starting to see sense in East Med as Turkey, Egypt reconsider relations - YASIN AKTAY

World starting to see sense in East Med as Turkey, Egypt reconsider relations

Egypt has announced that it will respect the continental shelf Turkey declared some time ago during its natural gas exploration operations in the East Mediterranean. Following this announcement, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias paid a sudden visit to Cairo, meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry.

Of course, their goal is to prevent any losses that they may be incurred in the event of a possible rapprochement between Turkey and Egypt. These losses in fact arose from Greece’s extreme profit stemming from the existing deal, but this gain was causing Egypt great detriment. It is clear that during Dendias’ latest visit, this loss and profit scale was reviewed and re-evaluated, paving the way for negotiations aimed at redetermining maritime borders within this framework.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also stated around the same time that meetings with Turkey in the East Mediterranean are beneficial and necessary.

This mobility in the East Mediterranean is undoubtedly a good omen in every respect. It also shows that everybody has finally understood that any deal made by the parties in the East Mediterranean, which ostracized and excluded Turkey, has no validity or applicability. If Turkey had remained silent in the face of this unjust distribution, that denied it any rights, events would have unfolded in a fait accompli, preventing Turkey, which is the country with the largest border to the Mediterranean, from even casting a fishing net on its own coasts.

Yet, after Turkey’s deal with Libya, all these plans needed to be reviewed from scratch. Naturally, Turkey does not disregard the rights of others while pursuing its own claims. It just wants its own rights and is claiming them.

It is because of this that Turkey was described by some as the “belligerent player” causing instability in the region. Nobody has any doubt that this is being said by those who are seeking to profit by unjust means. Since Greece is using its EU membership as an advantage and thus has the blind support of EU countries, this perception operation against Turkey has many takers. However, at the end of the day, when everything is said and done, Turkey, by the power vested in it solely by being in the right, ensured the re-establishment of balances.

Therefore, the quest for a new system in the East Mediterranean is nothing other than a new distribution, in which nobody’s rights are trampled upon and everyone gets their fair share. Ignoring one party renders impossible the healthy, efficient and safe production and access of hydrocarbon resources in the East Mediterranean.

The current activity we have been observing in Egypt, Greece and Israel shows that everybody is increasingly approaching this point of common sense constantly defended by Turkey.

Once a point of common sense is reached, rapprochement, as well as a line of understanding among all regional countries, is inevitable. Once Israel follows suit with Egypt, which announced that it will respect the continental shelf declared by Turkey, Greece will have no other choice but to concede after all. Just as Turkey is not demanding more than what it deserves, it does not want anyone else to lose their right either.

The respect Egypt is showing Turkey regarding this matter is, in fact, giving Cairo the opportunity to compensate the losses it incurred as a result of the deal with Greece. Thus, Egypt is not only respecting Turkey’s borders, but it is also looking out for its own interests.

Those who consider this development as turning over a new leaf in Turkey and Egypt’s bilateral relations, which were problematic for the last eight years, are not wrong. The logic of international relations differs greatly from personal ones. A cooperation that observes mutual interests concerning any matter does not require parties to adopt the same view and act together on every subject.

We had mentioned previously that Turkey and the U.S. have an opposite approach on most matters, especially the Syria front. Unfortunately, the U.S., with whom Turkey is NATO allies and cooperates with in numerous areas, is in cahoots with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), known for its terrorist operations against Turkey in both Syria and Iraq, as well as its branches in these countries. Turkey launches operations time and again against these groups that are openly and officially backed by the U.S. However, this does not prevent the two countries from cooperating and upholding a dialogue in certain other areas.

Similarly, Turkey may face Russia in both Syria and Libya, but this does not stop them from working together toward a solution in Syria. In fact, Turkey purchases certain defense technologies from Russia, and Russia sells them to Turkey. There are many examples of the same logic applying to Iran as well.

Relations with Egypt need to be reconsidered within this context as well. The two countries’ mutual interests should not be sacrificed to differences of opinion between them.

Positive responses from Turkish officials to Egypt’s statement signal the progress of new and realistic relations within this framework.


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