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Faculty Members from the Department Participated in a Seminar at Ledra Palace Hotel

Faculty Members from the Department Participated in a Seminar at Ledra Palace Hotel
Published Date: Wednesday, 28 November 2018
A seminar titled "Borders and Orders at Sea: A Reappraisal" was organized by the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) – Civil Affairs Section. The panel took place on November 28, 2018, at Ledra Palace Hotel and sought to address the exploitation of natural resources in the Eastern Mediterranean and its impact in the region. Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU) Department of Political Science and International Relations Chair and Director of the Cyprus Policy Center Prof. Dr. Ahmet Sözen, EMU Political Science and International Relations Faculty Member  Assist. Prof. Dr. Umut Bozkurt and University of Cyprus International Relations Faculty Member Prof. Dr. Costas M. Constantinou participated in the discussion as speakers. A lot of significant issues were addressed during the seminar, such as the superiority of states in world affairs, the weakness of international law and the silence of social sciences to environmental issues.

Prof. Dr. Sözen gave the first speech at the panel. He stated that states are still the main actors in international affairs and any issue in international affairs including conflict prevention or conflict solution is based on their consent. He emphasized that international law is regulated by states and globalization could not lessen the importance of the Westphalian system (sovereign state system) but rather made it, even more, stronger than ever. Sözen also mentioned to the regional issues in the Eastern Mediterranean including the refugees' crisis as well as other instabilities stemming from the close neighborhood of region (the Middle East) and the competition as a result of Russia's engagement to regional issues. was going to witness a new Cold War in it with the engagement of Russia in the regional affairs. Then, Sözen pointed out another important issue emerging in the area which is the exploration of natural resources and its potential impacts. He illustrated that since 2015 Egypt had become gas export country which was previously a country importing natural gas from outside.

After Sözen's speech, Prof. Dr. Constantinou delivered a speech of his own in which he basically focused on the position of international law, particularly on the impact of United Nations Convention of Law on the Sea (UNCLOS) in the Eastern Mediterranean region. Constantinou's speech mainly addressed the impact of the Cyprus Conflict on hydrocarbon discoveries from an international legal perspective by specifically addressed to UNCLOS. He stated that the delimitation of the sea still remains as an issue and added that the imagination of nation-state has changed since the signature of the 1982 UNCLOS which determined Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) – where states have sovereign rights but it differentiates from sovereignty. He also pointed out that it is a conflictual issue that some regional states like (Israel, Lebanon) have not ratified UNCLOS yet.  He points to a weakness of international law in this situation and the urgency of the delimitation of maritime space. Constantinou illustrated the regional conflicts including Israeli–Palestinian and Cyprus in order to depict how UNCLOS could be implemented. He concluded that the state claims in states are not a regional but a global issue.

In the final part of the panel, Assist. Prof. Bozkurt's speech focused on environmental concerns that the International Relations field is silent about. She examined two questions what does liberal theory tell about the environment and what does neo-liberalism says on the environment. Bozkurt stated that International Relations as a field turned its back to environmental issues by criticizing that nature is not treated by Social Sciences. She particularly focused on the neoliberal theory which mainly focuses on economic development while excluding the impact of the global economic politics on nature. Bozkurt also criticized the critical theories of international relations by claiming that they all are human-centric but do not take environmental issues into consideration. She pointed out that currently a market-based order in international relations is experienced. As regards to natural resource exploration in Cyprus, Bozkurt criticized scientists that nearly nobody raised the issue of its environmental impact and claimed that construction of any pipeline in the Eastern Mediterranean would damage the ecosystem of the sea. 

Aybaniz Huseyn