A game of chess between Turkey and the world in the East Med - ERDAL TANAS KARAGÖL

A game of chess between Turkey and the world in the East Med

The “controlled-tension” transpiring like a game of ping pong in the East Mediterranean with the statements being made and symbolic visits is still continuing full-speed ahead. Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar’s visit to Kaş yesterday and the Greek prime minister’s visit to Meis Island the very same day is clearly symbolic in terms of global relations. As Turkey continues its seismic survey and explorations, it never hesitates to protect all its rights within its maritime borders. And it isn’t afraid to say this on every platform either. Turkey is keeping its head held high against France and Greece which are trying to pull a fait accompli by completely disregarding Ankara's rights and lawful claims. Greece and its instigator France for their part are chasing a different strategy, that is, they’re only trying to add fuel to the fire.

What is France fishing for?

On the one hand, France is trying to get ahead by using the EU, and on the other, to get out of the pickle it finds itself in internally, trying to gain power through the seas and make plane sales to overcome the economic downturn resulting from the global pandemic in particular. The imminent commencement of war jet sales to Greece is proof of this.

Of course, most importantly, France wants to reinforce its desire to dominate the seas by being in the Eastern Mediterranean and showing that it is an actor here.

In this sense France assembled Spain, Italy, the Southern Cyprus Greek Administration and Portugal in Corsica to cooperate together against Turkey at the MED7 Summit and tried to send a message saying, “I call the shots in the East Mediterranean.” The impact of this message remains yet to be seen.

France is also using all its tricks to form a lobby against Turkey to impose sanctions before the EU summit that is set to take place on Sept. 24. It is also saying that it has its sights set on Germany’s leader role within the EU.

However it remains a fact that France, which doesn’t have a border with the East Mediterranean and has no justification for its presence there, is just shooting itself in the foot by going on a wild goose chase in the Mediterranean.

What results will the EU summit yield?

At the moment it seems hard to ascertain the outcome of the EU summit on Sept. 24. However, it will be an uphill battle for EU countries to take radical steps in line with the demands of Greece and France, for them to expel Turkey from the region, and finally to create a new order in the East Med excluding Ankara and form a whole new strategy.

Because Turkey is the country which has the longest border on the East Mediterranean. In terms of international law, Turkey is the one with the biggest claim. This is why when the EU makes a decision regarding the region it has to take into consideration the consequences of its choices as well as the demands of its fellow member countries.

EU countries have to consider the Syrian refugees waiting on Turkey’s side of the border, the trade activities of EU countries and many more relevant factors. This is why Germany is not throwing caution to the wind in the East Med.

Hence, I don’t think that the EU will brave the risk of incurring Turkey’s wrath when it makes its decision regarding Ankara. Because in addition to Turkey’s superiority in many fields and its strategic location, the East Mediterranean issue is now a national matter of Turkey’s survival, upon which everyone is in agreement.


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