Power games in the exclusive economic zone of the republic of Cyprus: The trouble with Turkey’s coercive diplomacy

Mlchalis Kontos, George E. Bltsis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The general aim of this paper is to examine the case of the Republic of Cyprus’ quest for exploring natural gas reserves in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) amidst Turkey’s threats and mobilisation of naval military means, under the lens of coercion and deterrence theory. Particularly, the paper aims to evaluate the effectiveness of Turkey’s use of threats towards the Republic of Cyprus (RoC), in an effort to force the latter to cancel its programme of exploratory drills in the Eastern Mediterranean. A variable that must be examined in this case is the presence and engagement of international oil and gas companies which the RoC has licensed to explore the Cypriot EEZ, despite Turkey’s dispute of Nicosia’s authority. In this context, the paper’s special objective is to outline the impact of these companies’ presence on Turkey’s strategy and the RoC’s efforts to overcome Turkish revisionism and to accomplish its goals. The main hypothesis is that the engagement of the oil and gas companies suggests an intervening variable that modifies the power distribution in a game where the militarily stronger party (Turkey) attempts to coerce the weaker party (RoC),-which actually lacks sufficient military means,-and thus to impose its will on it as a result of mutual rationalpower calculations. In the framework of our analysis, we pay particular attention to the concept of ‘coercive diplomacy’, which has been developed by Alexander George. In order to evaluate Turkey’s strategy in the case under examination, we refer to Ankara’s ultimatum which led to the cancellation of the deployment of the S-300 system in Cyprus in December 1998 as an example of successful Turkish coercive diplomacy towards the RoC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-70
Number of pages20
JournalCyprus Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • Alarm signals
  • Blackmail
  • Coercion
  • Coercive diplomacy
  • Deterrence
  • Patient gradualism
  • Power
  • Power indicators
  • Threat


Dive into the research topics of 'Power games in the exclusive economic zone of the republic of Cyprus: The trouble with Turkey’s coercive diplomacy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this