Solving the Unsolvable? How a Joint Development Zone Could Extinguish the Natural Gas Conflict in the Eastern Mediterranean.

TABLE OF CONTENTS I. INTRODUCTION 1042 II. HISTORICAL AND MODERN DISPUTES BETWEEN THE REPUBLIC, THE TURKISH REPUBLIC, AND TURKEY 1045 A. The Cyprus Problem 1045 B. Competing Claims 1048 C. UNCLOS 1051 D. Benefits of Natural Gas to the Republic, the 1053 Turkish Republic, and Turkey III. PREVIOUSLY PROPOSED SOLUTIONS TO THE MARITIME CLAIMS 1055 A. The International Court of Justice 1055 B. Negotiations 1058 C. Joint Development Zones 1059 IV. SOLUTION: A JOINT DEVELOPMENT ZONE BETWEEN THE REPUBLIC AND THE TURKISH REPUBLIC 1065 A. Should the parties solve their overlapping claims before or after solving the Cyprus problem? 1065 B. How Will the Parties Determine the Area of the JDZ? 1068 C. Institutional Mechanisms of the JDZ 1072 D. Costs and Profits 1077 E. Weaknesses 1079 V. CONCLUSION 1081 Appendix A: Map of Proposed JDZ 1083 Appendix B: Chart of All ICJ Advisory Opinions 1084 Appendix C: Plot of Written Statements Submitted in ICJ Advisory Opinions 1086 Appendix D: Chart of ICJ Advisory Opinions Per Year 1086 I. INTRODUCTION

In 2011, the British company Noble discovered natural gas (1) off the Cypriot coast. With that discovery came the potential for Cyprus to diversify its struggling economy, reduce domestic energy costs, and cooperate with other eastern Mediterranean countries on energy-related issues. (2) At the same time, this discovery generated the potential for conflict over the slew of rival maritime claims between Cyprus and Turkey.

Turkey contends that it has the right to explore and drill for natural gas in waters claimed by Cyprus because these waters constitute a part of Turkey's continental shelf. These overlapping claims include exploration blocks (3) where Cyprus previously granted exploration and drilling rights (4) to outside companies. (5) Asserting what it views as its sovereign rights, Turkey has continuously opposed Cypriot attempts to award contracts to international investors for exploration and drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean by threatening to blacklist companies that enter contracts with the Cypriot government, dispatching vessels to monitor drilling operations in Cyprus's claimed exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and, in 2018, dispatching its military to block Italian company, Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi (Eni), from drilling in Cypriot waters. (6) Since then, Turkey has dispatched two ships, Oruc Reis and Barbaros, alongside naval escorts to pinpoint the best area to drill for natural gas within the overlapping area of the Turkish continental shelf and the Cypriot EEZ. Despite Cypriot accusations that Turkey's natural gas exploration violates international law, Turkey remains determined to "continue its operations in its own continental shelf... without stopping." (7)

Further complicating this scenario is that Cyprus is effectively governed by two administrations: the Greek-populated Republic of Cyprus (the Republic) in the southern region of the island, and the Turkish-populated Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (the Turkish Republic) in the northern region of the island. (8) Exercising what it claims are its sovereign rights, the Turkish Republic issued licenses for the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) to conduct exploratory drilling in onshore and offshore blocks also claimed by the Republic. (9) Turkey has since dispatched two drill ships to the disputed seas, drawing ire from the Republic--and triggering EU sanctions--but neither has affected Turkey's hydrocarbon activities in the area. (10) Similarly, the Prime Minister of the Turkish Republic asserts "that the Turkish Cypriot nation has the right" to drill via licenses awarded to the TPAO, and that the Turkish Republic will "do everything to protect [its] the eastern Mediterranean." (11)

Ultimately, the conflict between Turkey, the Republic, and the Turkish Republic over natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean boils down to two problems: (1) the lack of agreed-upon EEZs between the Republic, the Turkish Republic, and Turkey, and (2) the absence of a mechanism that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can use to make joint decisions about the exploitation of natural gas reserves within Cypriot waters and profit distribution between the two communities. To explain why these problems exist and propose how they may be solved, this Note proceeds as follows: Part II begins with a brief discussion of (1) the history of tension between the Republic, the Turkish Republic, and Turkey following Cyprus's independence in 1960; (2) the positive benefits that exploitation of natural gas reserves would have for Cyprus and Turkey; and (3) the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the international legal framework that affects much of this dispute. Part III analyzes three previously proposed solutions: bringing the dispute before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), conducting bilateral or multilateral negotiations, and creating a joint development zone (JDZ) to govern resource exploration and extraction in disputed areas of the eastern Mediterranean. Part IV presents a solution that builds upon prior scholars' proposals of a JDZ, but with an eye specifically towards the unique situation of the Republic, the Turkish Republic, and Turkey.


    1. The Cyprus Problem

      The current conflict between Turkey, the Turkish Republic, and the Republic is not an isolated incident. Rather, it is part of a pattern of tumultuous relations between the parties that started during the latter stages of British rule. When Turkey first gave Britain control of Cyprus during the Russo-Turkish War, Greek Cypriots hoped that the regime change would pave the way for the unification of Cyprus and Greece, known as enosis. (12) With time, the Greek Cypriots' desire for enosis intensified, (13) and the community took increasingly extreme measures to achieve its ambition. (14)

      The five years leading up to Cypriot independence was fraught with warfare waged by Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston (National Organization of Cypriot Fighters, or EOKA), a Greek Cypriot paramilitary group that used violence in an attempt to achieve enosis. (15) At first, the Turkish Cypriots responded to EOKA's presence by siding with Britain and advocating for the continuation of colonial rule. (16) However, confronted with the fear of enosis and the ongoing guerrilla warfare waged by EOKA, the Turkish Cypriots soon formed a countermovement, Turk Muka[upsilon]emet Teskilati (Turkish Resistance Organization, or TMT), which advocated for taksim, or the partition of Cyprus between Greece and Turkey. (17) Over the four-year-long EOKA campaign, (18) the situation in Cyprus did not improve. During this time, Britain launched an unsuccessful military campaign against EOKA, both the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots rejected agreements that would have ended the fighting, and the threat of a civil war became increasingly likely as EOKA and TMT grew in number and stockpiled weapons. (19) The potential for war was a grave concern, seeing as a Cypriot civil war would necessarily involve Turkey and Greece--two NATO allies--and open the door for the USSR to seize control over the eastern Mediterranean. (20) Ultimately, the threat of war and the desire to avoid Soviet influence led the Greek Cypriots to soften their stance on enosis, (21) which paved the way for a peace agreement and culminated in Cyprus's independence in 1960. (22)

      Cyprus's founding documents established the country as a bicommunal federation with government institutions built to ensure representation for both the majority Greek Cypriot population and the minority Turkish Cypriot population. (23) However, the idea of a unified, independent Cyprus was short lived. Three years after Cyprus gained independence, President Archbishop Makarios III, a Greek Cypriot, proposed constitutional amendments that would have, in part, reduced Turkish Cypriot representation in government from 30 percent to 20 percent and abolished the unconditional veto granted by the founding constitution to the Turkish Cypriot vice president. (24) Political dissent from the Turkish Cypriots turned violent, acting as a catalyst for a short-lived civil war between the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots in December of 1963. (25) The Turkish Cypriots withdrew from the Republic government the following year. (26)

      In 1974, following a coup by the Greek junta in an attempt to unite Cyprus with Greece, Turkey responded by invoking the Treaty of Guarantee--one of the Cypriot founding documents--as justification for military intervention. (27) In an attempt to stop the fighting between Greek and Turkish forces, the foreign ministers of Greece, Turkey, and the United Kingdom negotiated a nationwide buffer zone, the green line, administered by the UN Peacekeeping Forces that had been dispatched to Cyprus following the initial political unrest in 1963. The green line would serve as an impassable barrier between the two ethnic communities, with the Turkish Cypriots concentrated in the northern region of Cyprus and the Greek Cypriots concentrated in the south. (28) Although the green line now has multiple crossings through which Greek and Turkish Cypriots can pass from one side of the island to the other, Cyprus remains geographically and ethnically split. A decade after the coup and subsequent Turkish invasion, the Turkish Cypriots declared independence and established the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Despite its claim of independence, the Turkish Republic remains a puppet state largely under Turkey's control. (29) Only Turkey recognizes the Turkish Republic as a state--the international community continues to recognize the Republic as the sole sovereign entity of Cyprus. (30)

      Since then, there have been multiple attempts to fix the Cyprus problem, none of which have succeeded. (31) The most notable of these was the Annan Plan...

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