06/01/2020, 09.48
TURKEY - LIBYA
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Erdogan on the hunt for gas and oil off the Libyan coast

Ankara's goal is to present the claims on the area’s natural resources as a "fait accompli" and revive the idea of ​​an "economic caliphate". The agreement establishes "exclusive" research rights. The risk of a clash with Europe that has already threatened sanctions for exploration in Cyprus.

Istanbul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan intends to promote a series of maritime explorations off the Libyan coast, in order to transform the claims - so far verbal - on the natural resources present in the area into a "fait accompli".

In a context of deep tension and violence, the news that has rebounded in international chancelleries is destined to create further divisions fueling the winds of war and the project for a new "economic caliphate" dreamed by Ankara.

Turkey is therefore pressing for the application of an agreement that would guarantee it the right to start explorations in search of oil and gas, with an exclusive economic zone (Eez). A pact reached last year, in the context of agreements on maritime borders signed with the Libyan government in Tripoli, which triggered a further escalation of tension.

In the complicated Libyan chessboard, the Turkish leader expressed full political and military support to Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, at the helm of the National Accord Government recognized by the international community.

According to Ankara, the agreement establishes the "exclusive" right to exploration and research in an area between the Turkish south coast and the north-eastern Libyan coast. However, Greece, Cyprus and the European Union (EU) have defined the trade pact as "illegal" adding that it represents a further source of confrontation with Brussels already at loggerheads for maritime exploration off the territorial waters of Cyprus. For the latter controversy, Europe has already threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey.

To date, the Turkish government has not clarified in exact terms where it intends to start the explorations. According to experts, the first operations should start shortly off Tripoli and near the area adjacent to the coast of Sirte.

Zenonas Tziarras, a researcher from the Prio Cyprus Center, reports that "from a tactical point of view, Turkey could test the scenario of a crisis with Athens with which an escalation is taking place". Afterwards, in a context of "easing" of tension, the two nations "could discuss and negotiate their positions".

According to Mona Sukkarieh, political consultant and co-founder of Middle East Strategic Perspectives, explains: " If we take Turkish operations off the Cypriot coast as an indicator, operations off the Libyan coast might start off on the less provocative part of the spectrum and grow bolder with time toward the more provocative part of the spectru". The goal, the expert concludes, is "to demonstrate a resolute determination in order to extract concessions or, at the very least, to impose itself as a player to reckon with.”

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