How to Fix East Med Border Disputes
par Roudi Baroudi and Debra Cagan
The Eastern Mediterranean is once again at the center of what can go wrong when countries fail to resolve decades-old disputes over offshore Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). On the face of it, the latest Greece-Turkey skirmish makes little sense now other than playing to domestic audiences and putting down markers to ensure a future piece of whatever this natural gas-rich part of the world has to offer. In today’s brutal economic climate, few energy companies are lining up to undertake new projects, which means it will take longer for actual production to begin under the best circumstances. What’s more, Turkey may not have the financial wherewithal or capacity to do the exploration and development work on its own, and no private energy company is likely to invest serious capital in a project that can be tied up for years by competing EEZ claims. This maximalist approach to solving maritime disputes will not work. Equitable results, perhaps based on the equidistance principle — a methodology endorsed by the 1994 UN Convention for Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) — would be the best way forward for settling the Greece-Turkey maritime boundary dispute.
Roudi Baroudi is CEO of Energy and Environment Holding, an independent consultancy in Doha. His recent book, “Maritime Disputes in the Eastern Mediterranean: The Way Forward,” is published by the Transatlantic Leadership Network and distributed by the Brookings Institution Press.
Debra Cagan is the Distinguished Energy Fellow at the Transatlantic Leadership Network. She is a former career US State Department and Defense Department official, having served from the Reagan to the Trump administrations.