Eastern Mediterranean Crisis Looms Over Med7 Summit

10/9/20 | 0 | 0 | 95 εμφανίσεις

 

French President Emmanuel Macron will host a summit of the European Union’s informal Med7 group—consisting of the bloc’s seven Mediterranean countries—to try to form a consensus on several regional challenges, including Libya and Syria. The main item of discussion, however, will be the ongoing standoff between Greece and Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean. In addition to Macron, the leaders of Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Cyprus, and Malta are expected to attend the summit on the French island of Corsica.

Greece and Turkey, both NATO members but longtime regional rivals, have overlapping maritime claims in the region, where a large deposit of oil and gas was recently discovered. The dispute boiled into a crisis last month after both countries sent naval vessels to the area to flex their military muscle. Writing for Foreign Policy recently, Michaël Tanchum explained the origins of the crisis.

Interest from abroad. International actors are now playing a growing role in the dispute. On Aug. 14, EU foreign ministers held an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis, and although they did not hammer out a long-term resolution, EU leaders are expected to announce more comprehensive action against Turkey after the EU summit later this month. Measures against Turkey could include sanctions and suspending its application to join the bloc.

In the meantime, France is working to support Greece militarily. French troops have participated in military exercises with Greece in recent weeks, and in the days leading up to today’s summit, it was reported that Greece is in talks with France over purchasing fighter jets to boost its defense capabilities.

Russia taking on a greater role. Russia has also shown an interest in the dispute. Last week, Turkey announced that Russian troops would be participating in several live-fire military exercises this month, and in a meeting with his Cypriot counterpart on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow was prepared to step in and help “resolve differences through dialogue and within a legal framework” if the main actors requested its direct involvement.

Where is the United States? Although the U.S. State Department has expressed deep concern “about Turkey’s continued activities in the region” and supports dialogue between Ankara and Athens, Washington has been notably absent as a mediator in the dispute, largely leaving it to EU and other regional policymakers.

foreignpolicy.com.

Category: International

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