Power Games in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of Cyprus: The Trouble with Turkey’s Coercive Diplomacy

By Michalis Kontos

This paper examines the case of the Republic of Cyprus’ (RoC’s) quest for exploring natural gas reserves in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) amidst Turkey’s threats, under the lens of coercion and deterrence theory. In particular, it evaluates the effectiveness of Turkey’s threats in an effort to force the RoC to cancel its exploratory drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean. It hypothesizes that the international oil and gas companies that are exploring the Cypriot EEZ suggests an intervening variable that modifies the power distribution in a game where Turkey attempts to coerce the RoC and thus to impose its will on it as a result of mutual rational power calculations. In the framework of our analysis, we focus on Alexander George’s ‘coercive diplomacy’ in evaluating Turkey’s strategy.