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EMU Hosts a Conference on Developments in the Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus

EMU Hosts a Conference on Developments in the Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus
Published Date: Wednesday, 20 October 2021

A conference on developments in Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean region was held in cooperation with the Eastern Mediterranean University Cyprus Policy Center (EMU CPC) and the Department of Political Science and International Relations. The conference, which consisted of a workshop panel and a discussion panel, was moderated by EMU academic staff member Assist. Prof. Dr. Aylin Gürzel. Ankara Yıldırım Beyazıt University (AYBU) Head of International Relations Department Prof. Dr. Giray Sadık, Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO) Cyprus Center Senior Researcher Mete Hatay, Middle East Technical University (METU) academic staff member Assist. Prof. Dr. Hayriye Kahveci and EMU academic staff member Dr. İpek Borman made presentations at the said event. Both panels of the conference held at EMU were also offered in an online format.

“No Discrimination for NATO Allies That Are Not EU Members"

Speaking at the conference, Prof. Dr. Sadık stated that the international threats arising from the Syrian war has shown how interdependent the security of the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is with the security of Turkey. Pointing out that Euro-Atlantic cooperation is needed more than ever in the mass influx of refugees, border security and the fight against terrorism, Prof. Dr. Sadık stated that for an effective cooperation, a real partnership and intelligence sharing are needed between the EU and NATO. Prof. Dr. Sadık also emphasized that no discrimination should be made against NATO allies that are not members of the EU, such as Turkey.

“Harsh Policies"

Senior Researcher Hatay said that during the AKP's first decade in power, Turkey sought to transform the country into a global player by spreading its soft power in the Western Balkans, Southeastern Europe, Southern Caucasus and the Middle East. Hatay stated that Turkey, which experienced an unprecedented economic growth during this period, has become a hope for many people in these regions. However, in the ongoing process, Hatay pointed out that events such as the Arab Spring, Gezi Park demonstrations, problems with Fethullah Gülen, coup attempt and regime change have increased the AKP's need for the votes of groups such as the MHP in domestic politics and caused it to reshape its policies. He stated that soft power policies have been replaced by rather harsh policies.


“Natural Gas Discoveries Led to Regional Geopolitical Changes"

Assist. Prof. Dr. Kahveci stated that the natural gas discoveries off the Eastern Mediterranean caused regional geopolitical changes. Stating that the Greek Cypriot Administration's hydrocarbon exploration activities in the last ten years and its attempt to use the issue as a pressure tool in the negotiations, the negotiations have become difficult, Assist. Prof. Dr. Kahveci mentioned that Turkey and the TRNC had previously acted on the principle of reciprocity, but after the Crans Montana talks failed, a more proactive Turkish foreign policy has been observed. Assist. Prof. Dr. Kahveci pointed out that the international community does not have a concrete policy in the region, and drew attention to the negative effects of the Arab Spring, the Syrian war and the lack of regional power on the Cyprus problem.

“Reconciliation and Trust Must Be Built"

Dr. Borman stated that especially in the past 10 years, the Eastern Mediterranean has turned into a regional security complex, which means security dilemmas concentrated in certain geographical areas. Stating that the hydrocarbon issue and the acceptance of Cyprus, which the Greek Cypriots unilaterally represent, to the European Union played an important role in this process. Dr. Borman also pointed out that the developments in the Eastern Mediterranean were articulated with the established political discourses and social insecurities in Cyprus. Dr. Borman said that the security dilemma in Cyprus should be revisited in terms of reconciliation and trust building, so that we can imagine a Cyprus beyond realpolitics and today's Cyprus. Dr. Borman claimed that these processes are the key in transforming the two communities on the island into a pluralistic one.

“Collaboration Must Be Meaningful"

Responding to the questions in the second panel held in the afternoon, Prof. Dr. Sadık stated that the conflicts between the Atlanticists in the EU and the central Europeanists led by France do not offer much hope for the future of NATO. Claiming that narrow-minded EU policies are likely to exacerbate the refugee problem and threats from terrorism, Prof. Dr. Sadık pointed out that international issues such as terrorism and the pandemic show how interconnected the security of EU member states and Turkey are. For this reason, Prof. Dr. Sadık emphasized that emerging strategies such as NATO-2030 should reflect this interdependence in a mutually reinforcing way for meaningful cooperation.

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