Libya’s interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, deputy prime minster and 14 ministers visited Ankara on Tuesday. During the visit, agreements were signed for the construction of a new airport, as well as the construction of an energy power plant and a shopping center. A top official, whom I asked to analyze the meetings, said, “It has been quite fruitful and productive.” Furthermore, there is information that certain energy projects were discussed during a meeting between Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez and his Libyan counterpart.
Both the visit and the picture presented were good.
However, considering the presence of players striving to sabotage or weaken Turkey’s relations with Libya, it is clear that there is another dimension to the matter that requires attention.
Allow me to highlight one:
The French press has been quite busy in recent weeks publishing one report and analysis after the other concerning Turkey’s increasing influence in Africa. These reports please us as they reflect the truth; we are happy and proud of Turkey’s growing presence in Africa; however, it must not be forgotten that these reports are being prepared by the French press to draw attention to the threat that Turkey’s rising power poses to French interests. It is not difficult to infer from the meetings held and visits made by France’s Director of the General Directorate for External Security Bernard Emié, who served for many years in Ankara as ambassador, that France is trying to atrophy Turkey’s presence in Africa – primarily in Libya – while strengthening its own influence.
Here is one example:
In the recent atmosphere, which Turkey and Egypt have increased efforts to normalize relations, Bernard Emie visited Cairo and held meetings with Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi.
Greece’s insolence in Libya
Greece is one of the few countries besides France that is preturbed by Turkey’s special relationship with Libya. A astonishing development recently took place. When Turkey signed the Maritime Boundary Treaty with the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) in November 2019, the Athens administration had sacked the Libyan ambassador in Greece as a reaction to this situation. The person who was given the boot (Mohamed el Manfi) is currently head of the Presidential Council in Libya; and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis traveled to Tripoli last week, all the way to Manfi’s doorstep, and held a meeting with him.
This is the insolence I am referring to.
Turkey was the only country to help the GNA in Tripoli during its dark days. Two years ago, around these times, when putschist Khalifa Haftar’s forces sieged Tripoli and were about to establish sovereignty over all of Libya, GNA officials of the time requested Turkey’s help. Thanks to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s generous approach, help that was sent to Tripoli both instilled balance in the ongoing war, and prevented Haftar’s forces from committing new and greater massacres.
Those who did not hesitate to pose beside Haftar during those tough times are now running to the Tripoli administration’s door.
Did Greece hit the brakes in tensions with Turkey?
In the shadow of developments concerning Libya, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias will be visiting Ankara today. Tensions between Turkey and Greece that culminated in the summer of 2020 seem to be relatively reduced. The most important factor underlying this is the will to return to a “positive agenda” once again with the meetings between Turkey and the EU. Yet, it would be wrong to attribute a more positive significance to such visits.
Because Greece remains insistent on its maximalist demands in the East Mediterranean and the Aegean region. Athens is very adept at turning the advantage of being an EU member, and U.S. support into a “clamorous” discourse. Therefore, we must always beware.
In our chat last week with National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, his statements regarding Greece were interesting.
“We are waiting for our Greek neighbor not to put its trust in others and shout about, and instead act in accordance with its power and weight. We are all aware of Greece’s economic situation. By spending a fortune on armament, it is causing great detriment to its own people. Entering the armament competition is mathematically incorrect for them. This balance will not change with a few weapons and aircraft. We are determined and eager to protect our rights and interests, and we have the power to do this. However, it is not a threat to say this. We are also saying, ‘Let us discuss matters’; this is not helplessness either.”
The Greek administration, which continues to struggle with the economic crisis and sell the country’s assets, recently struck a fighter jet deal with France worth billions of dollars. Minister Akar draws attention to this point with an indirect reference in the statement above; he says the power equilibrium will not change in favor of Greece with a few fighter jets. Since even the slightest event becomes news in Greece, these words must have swiftly been translated to Greek and reached their destination.