Eastern Mediterranean Hydrocarbons: No to War, No to Search and Extraction

A call to organise

Since the discovery of hydrocarbons under the Eastern Mediterranean seabed, politicians in Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, the Lebanon, Israel, and even Palestine, were quick to endorse search and drilling in the region. Governments began frantically to strike deals with each other in an attempt to mark their claim to Exclusive Economic Zones. They soon found themselves at each other’s throats, as in the case of Greece and Turkey, now constantly on the verge of military confrontation.

The danger of war is ominously present. We have already witnessed the military intervention of Turkey and other states in Libya and Syria, as well as the protracted melee between Israel and Turkey. Powers such as Germany, France, Italy, the USA and Russia are also flexing their muscles in the region; diplomatically, with the presence of their armadas as well as their colossal natural resources companies.

Peace is under threat on a scale that far exceeds the scope of regional squabbles.

The hydrocarbons buried under the Mediterranean seabed pose a further all-encompassing threat for humanity. Many seem to consider the Climate Crisis – the dangers associated with a global average temperature rise of 1.5o C above that of 1950 – as an issue for activists and organisations with an environmental orientation. The issue is much greater than that. Climate Crisis is an existential issue for humanity.

The scientific community and the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) warn that to avert a non-manageable, runaway climate change, the need for an immediate and sharp decrease in the use of fossil fuels is of critical urgency. They ask for the immediate termination of further exploration for fossil fuels: enough have been found already to destroy humanity’s environment if used, while the vast financial resources spent for this exploration should be diverted to research and development of clean energy sources.

Universal agreements such as the Kyoto and Paris Agreements have failed to produce the desired results. Pressure from below or even the desire of states like China to become as independent as possible from fossil fuels has led to the adoption of clean, renewable forms of energy. Assuming that the consumption of fossil fuels will indeed, as scientists urge, stop within the next 25-30 years, it means that investment and subsidies to explore, claim and extract fossil fuels today will leave regional economies with huge debts: hydrocarbons are already viewed as future “stranded assets” by financial experts.

Yet, the governments in our neck of the woods are prepared to endanger even the relative peace the region now enjoys for the exploitation of local hydrocarbons.

The question is: Can we trust our governments not to lead us to war and climate catastrophe?  Developments have clearly shown we cannot. A regional movement demanding both peace and that the hydrocarbons of the Eastern Mediterranean remain buried under the seabed is the way forward. The co-operation of political and environmental organisations, movements, and activists for coordinated action is a necessity.

If you share the basic premise that the threat of war in the region and climate catastrophe are intertwined and that the  Eastern Mediterranean hydrocarbons should stay buried under the seabed,  we would like to hear from you, at: murat.kanatli@ykp.org.cy and  anatropi.mag@gmail.com.

We think that it is imperative to call and organise jointly an e-conference of antiwar-climate activists and organisations from Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Israel and Palestine, allowing for the further possible input of international organizations such as Fridays4Future and/or Extinction Rebellion and/or Stop the War, etc, to discuss the prospect of concerted action in the Near and Middle East.

December, 2020

Yeni Kıbrıs Partisi (YKP)