Turkey Means Business in the Eastern Mediterranean

Erdogan is determined not to back down.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is on a mission to remake the Eastern Mediterranean. Within Turkish society and across the country’s fragmented political landscape, there is a consensus that the decision to cede islands in the Aegean Sea to Greece decades ago was a tremendous mistake. Thus, in 2017, at a welcoming ceremony during the first visit to Greece by a Turkish president in 65 years, Erdogan stunned Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos by saying the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which established the borders of modern Turkey following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, needed to be revised. It’s not hard to see why Erdogan places such stock in the region: The recent natural gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean are massive. For Turkey, gaining access to energy sources is a key foreign policy objective, and a matter of territorial sovereignty, entitlement and rectifying past injustices. Ankara’s Demands Much to Ankara’s chagrin, the Treaty of Lausanne essentially made the Aegean Sea a Greek lake and enabled Athens to challenge Turkey’s access to trade lanes at will. Turkey has never come to grips with the fact that, for example, the island of Kastellorizo (known as Meis in Turkish) that lies one mile […]

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Hilal Khashan
Hilal Khashan is a Professor of political science at the American University of Beirut. He is a respected author and analyst of Middle Eastern affairs. He is the author of six books, including Hizbullah: A Mission to Nowhere. (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2019.) He is currently writing a book titled Saudi Arabia: The Dilemma of Political Reform and the Illusion of Economic Development. He is also the author of more than 110 articles that appeared in journals such as Orbis, The Journal of Conflict Resolution, The Brown Journal of World Affairs, Middle East Quarterly, Third World Quarterly, Israel Affairs, Journal of Religion and Society, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, and The British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies.