- Retain-and-adapt, meaning the modernization of current systems,
- Buying new equipment,
- Adopting foreign models and concepts on the strategic, operational, and tactical levels.
The intergovernmental agreement co-signed by the Ministers of Energy of Greece, Israel and the Republic of Cyprus (RoC) for the construction of the East Med pipeline has burst a new period for the Eastern Mediterranean energy security. More precisely, the signing of this agreement has shown the willingness of the three parties apart from prospect energy producers also to become energy hubs for the European market, with all the possible economic and political benefits stemming from this. At the same time, though, the possible economic and (geo)political upgrade of the three states threatens significant interests of the Turkey/”Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (TRNC) axis. Concerning the former among the main pillars of its energy security is to remain among the principal energy hubs for the European markets. Thus, the development of a new energy route, with two of its three members states being already members of the Union, inevitably causes a threat for its energy interest. Concerning the TRNC, the political and economic benefits the East Med may bring to the RoC can contribute to upgrading its position in the international arena. Such a possibility worries the TRNC officials as they believe it can lessen their negotiating position on the discussions for the settlement of the Cyprus problem. Hence, the Turkey/TRNC axis has proceeded to a series of diplomatic and military actions aiming either to cancel the development of the East Med or at least avoid excluded from this agreement by claiming the pipeline passes through a part of their Exclusive Economic Zone. Even though the Republics of Greece and Cyprus have both repeatedly highlighted their intention to avoid settling their disputes with the Turkey/TRNC axis through the application of military means, no one can rule out the possibility of escalation due to factors that cannot be predicted in advance. A possible accident, a false decision, or other tactical and operational factors always exist in these cases. The question posed here is: “which are the military capabilities the RoC must develop to deal with such an escalation”? However, before answering this question, it is considered necessary to mention that the limitations governing the paper’s length and the author’s non-intention referring to unpublished or confidential data are the main reasons behind his decision to avoid referring to specific operational and tactical capabilities the RoC must develop. On the contrary, he seeks to limit the discussion on presenting the general framework on which those capabilities must be based. To begin with, as with any other issue related to the relations between the states, the author shares the same view with the analysts considering each case study a fluid and dynamic process that is subject to significant limitations. Concerning the military capabilities, the author believes there are five limitations we need to take into consideration. The first limitation is related to the examined state’s economic capabilities. We must not forget that in 2013 the RoC suffered its most significant economic recession since 1974, while it commonly accepted that it still tries to recover. This fact makes a drastic rise in the defense budget, at least during the upcoming years, a rather remote scenario. Thus, this paper takes for granted that the military expenditures will remain on the same percentage of the GDP as they are nowadays. Secondly, and according to Charles Kegley (2007), the state’s military capabilities act as supportive means to their foreign policy. Concerning the RoC, its President has expressed the intention of solving the disputes with the Turkey/TRNC axis under the auspices of the International Law and, in any case, try to avoid a military escalation (Anastasiades, 2014). Based on this intention, we are led to the conclusion that the RoC military capabilities are mainly defense based, and the government aims to apply them strictly for self-defense reasons. The third limitation is related to the threat perception. According to Marta Kepe et al. (2019), the multinational collaboration for the development of a shared military capability, as an armored vehicle, takes for granted the prior shared perception of threat. This statement makes the author believe the in-depth analysis of the threat in all the levels and the dimensions of the modern warfare (terrain, naval, air, cyber) are a necessary precondition before proceeding to the decision which military capacities must be upgraded. The fourth limitation is related to the existing correlation on military capabilities. Strictly for reasons related to the paper’s length the author limits his discussion by saying that based on open sources (Aristotelous, 2015) the Turkey/TRNC ground forces stationed in the island of Cyprus are not in a position to make large scale offensive military operations against the RoC National Guard. However, Turkey has a naval and air superiority that acts as a factor of differentiating the existing balance in the ground forces. The last limitation is the time the RoC has to develop the necessary military capabilities. The author has already stated that the Turkey/TRNC axis has already begun escalating with diplomatic means supported by low-scale and low intense military actions. Based on these facts, the author believes the RoC has the minimum available time to develop the necessary capabilities. Concerning the military capabilities, the RoC must develop and based on Radin et al. (2019) argument, this paper identifies the following three areas: