Schuman declaration for eastern Mediterranean
Former French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman was not the sole founding father of today’s European Union. Without Konrad Adenauer, Alcide de Gaspari, Jean Monnet, and many other visionary European politicians, businessmen and academics, it would have been impossible to transform the Europe of the 1940s, a continent devastated by war, to today’s Europe. Despite all the problems of a welfare state, it became an island of uninterrupted peace. Still, the declaration of May 9, 1950, in which Schuman proposed the creation of a European Coal and Steel Community, whose members would pool coal and steel production, was the birth certificate of the EU, and the day got marked several decades ago as the EU Day.
The Schuman declaration was calling for the creation of an interdependent system for countries willing to participate in regards to pooling the coal and steel resources, for which so many wars were fought. Now, can the countries of the eastern Mediterranean (and the Aegean) establish a similar scheme to share the hydrocarbon resources, transform their perennial enmities into consolidated partnership and create the much-needed atmosphere of solidarity that might help them cut defense expenses, prosper together in uninterrupted peace?
It may sound like a joke taking into consideration the positions of Turkey, Greece, Greek Cyprus, Turkish Cyprus, and of course some other relevant or totally irrelevant countries, such as France. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, Turkey offered similar schemes to Greece regarding the Aegean resources. A joint company might have been created for exploration, drilling and management of the Aegean resources. Greece always preferred to claim that because of its islands less than two kilometers off Turkey’s continental coast, Aegean is a Greek sea and wanted to make Turkey a landlocked country. Similarly, now because of a tiny Kastellorizo island, just stone throw away from the Turkish coast, the continental shelf and exclusive economic zone rights of Turkey are being compromised. It cannot be even worthy of a joke.
Regarding Cyprus, unfortunately, the situation is even worse. Recognition of the all-Greek Cypriot government in Cyprus in March 1964 as the legitimate government because of the “necessity clause” (Turkish Cypriots were expelled from the joint government but the U.N. needed the consent of the local government to dispatch peacekeeping forces to put an end to the bloodbath on the island) despite the bi-communality clauses of the Cyprus Constitution, it has put forth an awkward situation. Since 1964 though they were legitimate partners in the sovereignty, governance, and land of the island under a seven to three ratio (seven to Greek Cypriots, three to Turkish Cypriots), Turkish Cypriots were not given their rights. All over the island and off the island in all-natural resources of course under the 1960 accords, Turkish Cypriots have 30 percent share. Furthermore, Turkey has its interests in the eastern Mediterranean emanating from its continental shelf and exclusive economic zone rights, which cannot be compromised by the exclusive economic zone of an island, which is Cyprus.
Indeed, regarding Cyprus, the Turkish Cypriot side officially presented on many occasions offers to the Greek Cypriot side and the U.N. asking for the creation of a bi-communal ad-hoc commission chaired by the U.N. to explore, drill and administer hydrocarbon riches off the island. They were all rejected.
Now, Germany has been working behind the scenes. Though second-channel diplomacy has been trying to nourish the “Eastern Mediterranean Schuman Scheme” but this time, the offer is building on a two-year moratorium in oil and gas exploration and support for alternate energy resources. If all sides stop hydrocarbon activities tensions will be defused over the next two years, new areas of cooperation will be found, which constitutes the backbone of this idea. Wrong. Schuman Declaration did not call for a moratorium in coal and steel used in Europe, rather it called for cooperation and establishment of a system of interdependency.
Thus, is there a wish to establish interdependency? Before that, is there enough determination and persuasive capacity to make Greek and Greek Cypriots that “It’s all mine,” mentality it is not conducive to peace.