chapter  15
30 Pages

The Law of the Sea and Jurisdictional Issues in the Mediterranean

The first question that all students of Mediterranean affairs must ask themselves upon approaching the problems of this geographical area is an existential one, that is to say, whether the Mediterranean should be accredited with regionality just because it possesses a clear geographical coherence.1 Subjective perception, of course, plays a great part in answer­ ing that question. In international relations little attention can be expected to be given to the Mediterranean as a whole unless a consensus of national and international actors exists. A cursory look at several points in history will show that the acceptance of Mediterranean regionality has always been dependent upon the subjective perception of states at any given time. Riparian or external powers did so when they made mastery of the Mediterranean their foreign policy objective. From Habsburg Spain and Ottoman Turkey in early modern history, to Britain in the nineteenth century, to Italy in its Fascist imperialist era, to the superpowers in the Cold War era, powerful international players invented and reinvented Mediterranean regionality, even as the gulf between riparian actors continued to expand. These international players all had one thing in common: an appreciation of a fact so obvious that many tend to ignore it, which is to say, that the Mediterranean is, before being anything else, water.2