Strategically speaking Turkey’s announced surveys and drillings within its claimed EEZ with Libya aim to reinforce the legitimacy of its maritime agreement with Libya’s GNA and create fait accomplis in terms of maritime zones in the Eastern Mediterranean and natural resource exploitation, as well as increase its influence over Tripoli.
From a more tactical point of view, Turkey might test the scenario of a crisis with Athens where escalation takes place and then, in the context of de-escalation, the two countries would have to discuss and negotiate their positions. In that case, Turkey’s negotiating position (politically speaking, not so much legally) could be more advantageous having already set the bar of its maritime claims and fait accomplis high.
If Turkey were to proceed with these drillings without any legal, political or other problems/reactions, the outcome would further Turkey’s agenda and improve its position in the regional power balance equation. It would certainly strengthen its foothold in Libya and advance both its naval strategy and its aim to revise the maritime zones in the Eastern Mediterranean to its own benefit.
In terms of backlash, it is not certain that the EU will agree on sanctions against Turkey as a response. It has so far proved challenging. It might however expand the list of adopted measures against specific people affiliated for example with TPAO, the Ministry of Energy and/or other related institutions/organisations. Also the issue of pre-accession budget cuts is always on the table when it comes to this kind of discussions. Much will depend on Greece’s reaction.
By Zenonas Tziarras