March 2018 The Eastern Mediterranean: New Dynamics and Potential for Cooperation
Muriel Asseburg Senior Fellow SWP - German Institute for International and Security Affairs
Thanos Dokos Director ELIAMEP - Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy
Ehud Eiran Board Member Mitvim - The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
Gabriel Mitchell Policy Fellow Mitvim - The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
Panayotis Tsakonas Professor ELIAMEP - Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy

Abstract

While the Arab Middle East is in turmoil and is capturing international attention mostly due to crises and instability, the Eastern Mediterranean sub-region is witnessing some positive diplomatic momentum. Signs of increased political cooperation between different countries, new opportunities for economic and energy cooperation, as well as common threats related to security and refugee flow all lead to the emergence of the Eastern Mediterranean as a new sub-region.

However, this positive momentum is challenged by a variety of geo-political factors, including the war in Syria and its consequences; the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian and Cyprus conflicts; the crisis between Turkey and Egypt; the Palestinian split and the situation in Gaza; the growing involvement of foreign actors in the sub-region with their own political agenda; and mounting obstacles to the promotion of democracy, tolerance and human rights.

Navigating the sub-region towards a win-win, rather than a zero-sum reality requires relevant stakeholders to gain more knowledge, better understand regional dynamics, identify opportunities for cooperation, overcome conflicts and contradictory interests, and practise skilled and inclusive diplomacy.

This Joint Policy Study on “The Eastern Mediterranean: New Dynamics and Opportunities for Cooperation”, aims to contribute to these needs and to conflict resolution and enhanced cooperation in the sub-region. It includes three chapters. The first chapter focuses on promoting collective security schemes in the Eastern Mediterranean. The second chapter focuses on regional effects of the natural gas finds in the Eastern Mediterranean. The third chapter focuses on the war in Syria and its effect on Eastern Mediterranean dynamics and provides recommendations for the EU on how it can support constructive dynamics in the Eastern Mediterranean and prevent military spill-over of the war in Syria.

This Joint Policy Study was written in the framework of the EuroMeSCo Working Package “The Eastern Mediterranean: New Dynamics and Potential for Cooperation”, led by Dr. Nimrod Goren, Head of Mitvim – The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies.