Over the last few years, the Eastern Mediterranean has been increasingly fraught with growing competition between regional players, most notably Turkey, Cyprus, and Israel, signalling an apparent return of power politics in regional relations. Of all actors involved, Turkey stands out for being both an ever more influential power and a source of serious concern to other countries in the region due to its greater assertiveness and perceived hegemonic ambitions. Against the backdrop of recent regional developments and their international implications, including the dispute over drilling rights off Cyprus’ coasts, Turkey’s image as a constructive and dialogue-oriented country, a critical achievement pursued by a generation of Turkish politicians, diplomats and officials, risks being replaced by one of an antagonistic/assertive power. Facing the first serious challenge to its claim to embody a benign model as a secular Muslim democracy and a responsible international actor, Turkey should not indulge in emotional reactions. It should opt instead for a more moderate and balanced approach based on the assumption that only cooperation and constructive dialogue, even with rival countries, can help it realize its ambition of being the regional pivot.
1. The Origins of Tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean
1.1. The Dispute on Natural Resources
1.2. The Emerging System of Alliances
2. Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean: A Different Regional Power?
2.1. Turkey’s stakes in the Eastern Mediterranean
2.2. The Regional Implications of Turkey’s New Assertiveness
2.2.1. Implications for Turkey’s Relations with the US
2.2.2. Implications for Turkey’s Relations with the EU