Europe will welcome Turkey in east Med. energy deals if it respects law - Kathimerini

Turkey could become part of energy deals in the Eastern Mediterranean if the country stopped being a troublemaker in the region, according to Tom Ellis, the editor-in-chief of the English edition of Greek daily Kathimerini.

"If Turkey changes, if it manages to accept certain realities, if it acknowledges the law of the seas and international treaties, if it starts behaving like a normal state toward Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, Syria, Israel and others, then its neighbors would be ready to work with it in a regional development that would be beneficial to all," Ellis said in an article published on Monday.

Turkey is at odds with Cyprus and Greece over rights to exploit potentially rich hydrocarbon reserves in the region. Ankara says the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot state in the north of the island, which only it recognises, has a right to a share in the reserves, while the Cypriot government says any proceeds from gas drilling will be shared fairly after a peace deal is established.

But Turkey’s claims to areas it says lie on its continental shelf also overlap with areas that Cyprus claims are part of its exclusive economic zone. Ankara’s determination to drill in these areas is seen as an illegal and aggressive stance by the European Union.

Turkey has sent several ships accompanied by naval vessels to search for gas reserves off Cyprus. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan earlier said the Turkish army would be prepared, if necessary, to invade Cyprus in a repeat of the 1974 operation that led to the partition of the island.

"And given the geography, as well as geopolitical and practical issues, instead of being a threat or at the very least a destabilizing factor, Turkey could be a part of the framework of cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean," he said.

Despite the ongoing dispute, Greece and Cyprus could even welcome Turkey's inclusion in energy deals supposing that Turkey will respect international laws.

Cyprus is split between the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus following the invasion of Turkey, which has since maintained a military presence in the northern part of the island. Turkey does not diplomatically recognise the Republic of Cyprus in the southern part of the island and is the only country to formally recognise the Turkish Cypriot Republic.