MED ENERGY WARS: UK Foreign Office slumbers on as Israel/Turkey showdown grows ever nearer.

If you still can’t see the geopolitics behind all this, go see an optician.


Wannabe EU Member Recep Erdogan

As the Aegean/Mediterranean drilling disputes, elections, financial problems and land-grabs gather pace, The Slog makes sense of the jigsaw now revealing a darker and darker picture of potential conflict.

Veteran Sloggers are well aware of Erdogan The Mad: Turkish leader, free-speech crusher, Kurd-basher, Holocaust denier, energy thief, and best friend of Iran and David Cameron at one and the same time.

They’ll also know from earlier in the week that, ignoring existing territorial waters ratified by the UN, Rabid Recep and his Erratic Engineers have plonked a drilling derrick right next to Cyprus (having earlier this year threatened to annex it) and got right down to the task of tapping into other people’s oil.

Now the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs is denying Greek media reports that a Turkish Petroleum Company is carrying out oil exploratory works along the Greek continental shelf in the Mediterranean Sea.

Still, at least this area is disputed….a first for Turkish ideas about sovereignty. The continental shelf row stems from the absence of a delimitation agreement effected between the two countries and ‘has a bearing on the overall equilibrium of rights and interests in the Aegean’, as it concerns areas only hazily attributed beyond the 6 mile territorial sea.

It’s a smart tactic by Erdogan this one: deny you’re up to anything where you have the right to be, as a distraction to the fact that you’re ploughing ahead in places where you don’t have a right in Hell to be. Thus there are now serious concerns among the Greek diplomatic community following an official announcement in the Turkish Government Gazette asking for tenders to explore areas in the Aegean Sea which are in the Exclusive Greek Economic Zone (EGEZ).

Personally, I think the UK should start drilling in Dublin Bay. I’m sure the Taioseach would understand entirely.

This is really just Turkish diplomacy moving into the third stage of challenging the status quo in the Aegean Sea. Using an obvious parallel, Recep Erdogan had his march into the Rhineland moment with Cyprus, and drilling thereof. Now he’s trying to engineer an Anschluss.

Media reports earlier said a standoff ensued when a Greek gunboat was dispatched to the EGEZ area, where a Norwegian ship was prospecting for oil in the southeastern Aegean escorted by Turkish frigate the Gediz.

The continental shelf issue has in the past led to tensions between Turkey and Greece. Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras said that the determination of Turkey to move ahead with this venture – and license petroleum activities in areas south of Rhodes and Kastelorizo – was contrary to the rules regarding international waters. He underlined that Ankara cannot “undermine sovereign rights and powers of Greece, based on international law”, and promptly summoned the Norwegian Ambassador for a serious dressing down.

A spokesman said that the Greek Foreign ministry “will take all necessary steps to safeguard and defend the sovereign rights of Greece”, but as I’ve posted several times recently, there are bigger sharks hunting in these murky diplomatic waters.

The Franco-German sales of weaponry to Greece since 2009 have been enormous (even if you don’t count the bribes involved) while the Americans retain a crucial interest in the energy and rare-earth deposits now known to exist in profusion in the Med/Aegean region…hence their plan to isolate and then befriend Greece. Clearly, both the White House and the Berlin Chancellery sorry the Brussels Commission plan to defend what they’ve opportunistically lucked into.

But US ally Israel also wishes to glue its destiny firmly to the ClubMed EU States – especially Greece and Cyprus – while the EU’s mad poppinjays are busy trying to recruit new North African members. (Except, of course, that being profoundly dumb, they also believe that sworn Israel enemy Turkey can somehow be included in this happy union without a serious punch-up ensuing at the wedding reception).

So you can see where all this leading. And oil isn’t the only energy-tie we’re talking about here.

PPC Quantum Energy S.A., a subsidiary of electricity giant Public Power Corporation, this week formally announced the launch of the construction of a 2,000-megawatt undersea electricity cable to link up the electricity grids of Israel, Cyprus and Greece. The company has notified the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) and CERA, the corresponding authority in Cyprus, over the «EuroAsia Interconnector» project.

In a joint letter to the company, both authorities underlined that the implementation of such an ambitious project will decisively contribute to ensure the safety of power supply for the entire region of SE Europe and the eastern Mediterranean. (Cast your minds back to the Russian insistence on attendance to monitor the May 6th Greek General Election…all of a sudden that makes sense too).

This is a vast construction task being undertaken at an eye-watering cost. The total length of the undersea cable will be 1,000 kilometers, making it the world’s biggest. It will be placed as deep as 2,000 meters from the surface at some points.The project will be completed within three years and cost some 1.5 billion euros, with the participation of PPC’s Israeli counterpart.

Naturally in these straitened times, things are a little unclear on the question of who’s paying for it. Israel coughed up some serious money for the original geological survey about oil and minerals. Being Israel, it will pay its fair share for this idea to become a reality. But Brussels, Berlin and Washington? Sadly dear reader, I know not. Yet.

It does however bring into sharper and sharper relief, does it not, why America wants Greece to default, but the Germans sorry sorry Europeans don’t. As ever, this is a war in the making…and energy is the cause of it.

Well, they laughed when I told them that Washington and Berlin had fallen out over Greek amputation from the eurozone. They laughed when I told them Erdogan was a trouble-making Islamist headcase.

Are they laughing now, I wonder. And in the Foreign Office, is anyone awake? Sorry, silly question.

Falklands War anyone?

The quickest way to catch up on this saga is to type ‘Recep Erdogan’ into The Search box top right from here