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Re: Turkey's Problems with Neighbors (Cyprus we're looking at you)

Released on 2012-03-10 18:00 GMT

Email-ID 133458
Date 2011-09-28 17:42:13
yeah, I agree with the turkey part. my comment meant to emphasize the part
about greek cyprus. we need to first lay out Greek Cyprus' motivation and
then explain why and how Turkey had to show its balls and the constraints
it faces.


From: "Reva Bhalla"
To: "Emre Dogru"
Cc: "Mike Marchio" , "OpCenter"

Sent: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 6:32:41 PM
Subject: Re: Turkey's Problems with Neighbors (Cyprus we're looking at

Emre, I agree with you that we need a substantial paragraph in here
explaining what Greek Cyprus was thinking in trying to push forward with
the exploration while Turkey was having problems with Israel and in
trying to further strain EU-Turkey ties. That all makes sense.

But, it's not an either/or thing. Turkey also saw the current situation
as an opportunity - after flopping with Israel, turkey wanted to show it
still has something to show for itself in the eastern Med. Even then,
Turkey is facing big constraints and is playing catch-up in the Cyprus
issue. As you rgihtly point out, TPAO would also need a foreign firm with
the expertise and willingness to absorb the political risk in working with
Turkey to drill in these waters. Turkey can say it doesn't have to act in
the exploration phase, but what can Turkey seroiusly do to prevent
production? That's going to be extremely tough for them.

also, there was a turkish official that talked about naval escorts for the
energy crews. i think it was the energy minister, but that can be easily
looked up.

Marchio did a great job in articulating this. We just need those small
adjustments and a section on the GReek Cyprus point of view and we are
good to go on this.


From: "Emre Dogru"
To: "Mike Marchio"
Cc: "Reva Bhalla"
Sent: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 4:22:06 AM
Subject: Re: Turkey's Problems with Neighbors (Cyprus we're looking at

the main argument in the initial piece is reversed here. we are not saying
that turkey is reasserting itself in the eastern Med by using the cyprus
issue. it's the opposite:

greek cyprus thinks its the best time to push its demands because 1)
turkey and israel have disputes and it is risky for turkey to conduct
naval operations in areas close to Block-12 2) Turkey and EU ties are at
nadir and Cyprus wants to severe the ties before it assumes the presidency
in the hopes of bringing turkish-eu ties to a point of no return.

turkey was forced to react because otherwise it would risk being seen as
an impotent actor that can only lash out. however, this is still a
symbolic move b/c turkish vessel can make explorations but turkey will
need foreign partnership if it finds feasible resources. however, it still
shows the political willingness to defend turkish cyprus's sovereignty.
our sources say turkey can afford greek cyprus's exploration phase, but
its policy is to prevent production at all costs, for which there is still
time. but the main challenge for turkey will emerge if greek cyprus
reaches to production phase, if both sides cannot find a compromise in the

Mike Marchio wrote:

Hello my favorite cucumber and SBG,

Here's the Cyprus piece. I'm sorry it's taken so long to get written --
I've been pulled away a number of times since starting it to deal with
other pieces, and the issue is not exactly a simple one so it took a bit
of work to wrap my head around how to present it. I'm not sure if this
is what you had in mind, but I think it tracks pretty closely with the
discussion I had with Reva.

The tentative plan is to run this Wednesday, so if you guys wouldn't
mind taking a look somewhat early in the morning to give me the go-ahead
on sending it out to the full list for comments that would be
appreciated. Unless of course I got everything completely wrong. Then
I'll be headed back to the drawing board. I hope that isn't the case,
new developments in the situation have required me to rewrite the
trigger a few times already and I really hope they don't resolve this
problem before we get the piece out the door.

Also, by this point I hate Cyprus so much that I am willing to enlist
for your people's next war with them, Emre.

At the bottom are a bunch of news articles where I found various dates
and facts, if you're interested in verifying that stuff.

Turkey, Cyprus: Rising Energy Tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean

Teaser: Ankara intends to make its presence felt in the eastern
Mediterranean by taking on Cyprus over its plan to drill for oil and
natural gas, but has found backing up its rhetoric more difficult than

Summary: I'll write this after you guys approve the main thrust of the


A Turkish seismic survey vessel started natural gas exploration Sept. 27
in an area off the southern coast of Cyprus near where the Cypriot
government began drilling Sept. 20. Ankara's move to begin exploration
follows a deal reached Sept. 21 between Turkey and the Turkish Republic
of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) -- which controls the northeastern half of the
island -- on a continental shelf delimitation agreement (I don't think
people are gonna know what that term means? What would be a good
euphemism? Something like "claiming part of the continental shelf for
the TRNC"? , which gives the coastal state the right to exploit seabed
resources. and licensing Turkish companies Turkish Petroleum Company
TPAO to begin energy development there. Turkey has also stated it will
send naval submarines and frigates to protect the survey vessel, though
details on this remain unclear.

The tensions over energy issues have been simmering for years before the
recent escalation. Turkey has opposed drilling by the Cypriot government
since plans were initially put forward in 2007, but did not take any
significant action against the project until the drilling began; the
deployment of the seismic survey vessel and supporting the TRNC's own
energy projects is its way of catching up. However, the conflict has
less to do with energy competition than with demonstrating Turkey's
geopolitical influence.

before getting here, we need to explain why turkey opposes Greek Cypriot's
exploration by laying out disputed division of the island. that greek
cyprus is an internationally recognized claiming to represent the entire
island, but it does not have authority over the northern part. TRNC is
only recognized by Turkey and Turkish troops are stationed in that part.

Ankara is viewed as a rising power in the region, but thus far has had
difficulty substantiating its position with anything more than rhetoric.
After learning the limits of rhetoric in its confrontation with Israel,
failing to secure even an apology for the deaths of nine Turks in the
May 2010 flotilla incident, Turkey has looked elsewhere in the eastern
Mediterranean -- to Cyprus -- for a place to demonstrate its influence.
With the European Union currently distracted by the Greek debt crisis,
Ankara believes it has timing on its side but it is unclear how hard it
is willing to push in making its presence felt, and with the additional
ships, rigs and exploration vessels being deployed, the chances for
miscalculation are increasing. it is actually the opposite logic. Cyprus
thinks this is the best time to push the long standing issue, because
turkey has problems with israel and EU. Turkey was forced to react,
basically. as written, this para sounds like Turkey staged the entire
thing to assert itself in the Med.

Energy in the Eastern Mediterranean

Cyprus has been divided since Turkey militarily intervened in 1974
following a Greek-inspired coup attempt. The island is split between a
Greek Cypriot southwest, which is internationally recognized, and a
Turkish Cypriot northeast represented by the TRNC, which is only
recognized by Ankara, and while peace talks began in 2008 but little
progress has been made. Turkey has asserted that Cyprus does not have
the right to exploit the island's seabed resources unilaterally before
the island's status is resolved, a right the Greek Cypriot government
has claimed as the only official representative of the island at the
United Nations and a member of the European Union.

Despite Turkey's protests, the Greek Cypriot government went ahead with
the development plans, granting U.S.-based Noble Energy an exploration
license in 2007 in Block 12 (where it began drilling Sept. 20) of
Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), a maritime boundary that gives a
state the right to conduct economic activities up to 200 miles from its
coast. Block 12 is the only area in the EEZ for which Cyprus has granted
a license, and it abuts the Leviathan and Tamar offshore fields being
developed by Israel since 1998, also in partnership with Noble Energy.

Israel signed an agreement with Cyprus in December 2010 recognizing the
Cypriot government's EEZ a few months after the May flotilla incident
severely damaged relations with Turkey, likely not a coincidence.
(Similar deals have been signed with Egypt in 2003 and Lebanon in 2007.)
Though Israel has largely stayed out of the current dispute between
Turkey and Cyprus, it has been happy to see the limits of Turkey's
rhetorical calls for an end to drilling go unheeded.

Tensions had already been increasing in eastern Mediterranean after the
Turkish government announced Sept. 8 that its warships would escort any
aid ship that sails toward the Gaza Strip to break the Israeli-imposed
blockade. This announcement was made shortly after a leaked newspaper
report that said the U.N. investigation on the flotilla incident found
the Israeli action legal. Even though it is yet to be seen whether
Turkey would make good on this threat (or even allow another aid ship to
sail toward Gaza from its ports), it nevertheless indicated that Turkey
was not officially ruling out a military role in addressing its

Now Turkey has stated it will send frigates and submarines deployed in
the eastern Mediterranean to escort the survey vessel conducting energy
exploration i'm not sure if Turkey stated that. there were reports
earlier which said three frigates and one submarine were sailing in
easter Med, but it did not say that it would escort the vessel, and
believes that the timing of the move may make it easier to cow Cyprus
into halting the drilling. not really. Cyprus will continue to drill

Europe and the Timing Question

Ankara expected that the financial turmoil currently engulfing Europe -- with Cyprus' main benefactor
Greece at its epicenter -- would make Cyprus feel more vulnerable to
Turkish pressure and thus more likely to capitulate. In addition,
Turkey's relations with the European Union are at their nadir, and
Ankara is unlikely to adjust its behavior to curry the favor of a bloc
that appears unlikely to ever let Turkey join it. Indeed, no chapter in
Turkey-EU accession talks has opened since July 2010, and the Turkish
government already announced it will suspend all ties with the European
Union when Cyprus assumes the European Union's rotating presidency in
the second half of 2012. The division was demonstrated most recently
when German Chancellor Angela Merkel pointedly stated on the eve of
Turkish President Abdullah Gul's Sept. 20 visit that Germany did not
favor Turkey joining the bloc.

Turkey has not formally dropped its EU bid, but has mainly continued it
for public relations reasons as it increasingly turns its attention to
the Middle East, where it has a historic leadership role. The long-stagnant EU application,
therefore, will not make Turkey particularly sensitive to the European
Union's condemnation if Ankara decides to escalate its actions from
rhetoric and sending surveying vessels to a more active role for the
naval assets it claims to have deployed to Cyprus.

Turkey's Missing U.S. Backing

In pursuing the Cyprus issue, Turkey had hoped to receive the backing of
the United States. Washington needs help from Ankara on a number of
issues, from containing Iran's influence in Iraq after the U.S.
withdrawal to a ballistic missile defense installation aimed at
countering Russia. Turkey hoped that, if not outright endorsing Ankara's
position and calling for Cyprus to end its drilling, the United States
would at least turn a blind eye to Turkey's efforts. However, this has
turned out not to be the case, with Washington making clear in a number
of ways that it is supporting Cyprus in the dispute.

Ultimately, Turkey decided to confront Cyprus on the energy issue
because it believed the move, if successful, could serve to prevent it
from gaining a reputation of being unable to make good on its rhetoric
or purported influence. If it fails to get Cyprus to stop drilling, it
will look even more ineffectual than how it began. (Link to intel
guidance about turkey being all hat and no cattle). Ankara has raised
the stakes for itself in this dispute, and the question now becomes
whether it attempts to an understanding with Cyprus on the drilling to
de-escalate the situation, or if not, how far it is willing to take
matters in order to prevent another embarrassment.

Mike Marchio

Emre Dogru

Cell: +90.532.465.7514
Fixed: +1.512.279.9468

Emre Dogru
Cell: +90.532.465.7514
Fixed: +1.512.279.9468