Turkey looks to make eastern Mediterranean its lebensraum – Greek MP

Turkey is pursuing an aggressive foreign policy in the eastern Mediterranean to pursue the aim of making the sea its lebensraum, and not out of a practical drive to secure its rights, Greek centre-right New Democracy Party lawmaker and foreign policy scholar Angelos Syrigos wrote for Kathimerini.

Turkey’s recent moves in the eastern Mediterranean have seen it sending drill ships to search for gas in areas claimed by Cyprus and signing a deal with Libya that stakes a claim to an expansive maritime jurisdiction, blocking the path of a planned Greek-Cypriot-Israeli pipeline to Europe.

But while the Turkish government says these are necessary actions to protect the country’s rights, they actually follow an older plan to expand Turkey’s influence over the sea that stems from an ideologically driven effort to recapture the influence of the Ottoman Empire, Syrigos said.

This is why it has positioned itself as a spoiler in the Cypriot gas agreements, demanded drilling rights in half of the blocks claimed by Cyprus, and flouted international law to claim areas on Crete’s continental shelf, he said.

“From the beginning, Erdoğan showed that he wanted to exercise influence outside his country’s borders,” said the Greek politician. “Neo-Ottomanism provided the ideological underpinnings for this policy.”

“Turkey has determined the eastern Mediterranean as its lebensraum. The idea is that it will here be able to exercise its influence in an absolute way, treating international law as it sees fit and depending on circumstance,” he said.