France’s footsteps in the eastern Mediterranean threaten NATO unity

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French President Emmanuel Macron is leading his country down a dangerous path with regard to the Eastern Mediterranean and Libya, a political misstep that threatens NATO, according to regional experts.

Earlier this week, France announced that it would “temporarily” increase its military presence in the eastern Mediterranean in order to bolster Greece’s claim over the disputed maritime borders.

For regional experts, this decision complicates the maritime conflict between the legitimate stakeholders – Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) – which share land borders with the Eastern Mediterranean, giving them access to its natural resources.

For Ankara-based security expert Ali Bakeer, France’s hostile stance against Turkey stems from the problems the country’s President Emmanuel Macron faces at home.

“Macron’s internal issues must remain internal and not be exported to the region in the name of leadership. With this involvement, Paris threatens the unity of the EU and NATO and strengthens Russia’s role in the region, ”Bakeer told TRT World.

While Macron spoke militaristic language in regards to the Eastern Mediterranean dispute, he stressed the importance of dialogue, “increased consultation”, between Greece and Turkey, and welcomed the mediation efforts of Germany.

Analyst Bakeer said France’s “unreasonable” stance on the dispute first undermined Germany’s arbitration, then intensified the deterioration of Greece-Turkey ties, which adds complications and increases the possibility of a military confrontation between the competing parties.

France’s decision came after Turkey issued a NAVTEX (navigation telex) on August 10 as part of the country’s oil and gas survey activities. Ankara has announced that its ship, Oruc Reis, will start conducting further seismic research in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey’s decision did not come out of nowhere, in fact. it came after Greece dismissed Turkey’s diplomatic overtures and signed a controversial delimitation agreement with Egypt.

Before Athens headed for Cairo, Turkey had already announced to postpone its activities in the region as a sign of “goodwill” and to give Germany-led dialogue efforts a chance to succeed.

Turkey saw the Egypt-Greece deal as a snub from Athens and they quickly called it “null and void”. Shortly thereafter, Ankara authorized Oruc Reis to continue its activities in an area on Turkey’s continental shelf. The ship will continue its seismic activities in the eastern Mediterranean with the Cengiz Han and the Ataman until 23 August.

With Turkey claiming that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) also has rights to the region’s resources, Ankara has repeatedly challenged the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the eastern Mediterranean.

Speaking to TRT World, Mesut Hakki Casin, a former Turkish military officer and professor of international law at Yeditepe University in Istanbul, said Macron’s foreign policy decisions regarding Turkey should not be misinterpreted as a final position of France and its people.

“It has never been a problem between France and Turkey. It’s just Macron who has problems with Turkey, ”Casin said.

Citing Macron’s infamous statement calling NATO an alliance that has suffered from “brain death,” Casin said the French president has taken several steps to weaken the transatlantic alliance, which has helped embolden Russia in Libya and the Mediterranean.

“France is also responsible for NATO’s security in the Eastern Mediterranean and the protection of NATO’s Eastern Front is Turkey’s responsibility. But it appears that Paris is undermining NATO security in the east by turning against its NATO ally, Turkey.

Casin said the extent of Macron’s anti-Turkey stance could be measured by his previous attempts to supply Russia with two aircraft carriers to undermine Turkey’s air power, and if the United States were not not intervened, he would have succeeded in putting NATO at a disadvantage.

“According to international law, sovereign states can carry out drilling activities and Oruc Reis is owned by the Turkish state, its potential military exercises in the region suggest targeting Oruc Reis and this would directly mean a declaration of war against its NATO ally, ”he added. .

“The United States is aware of the damage done by France to NATO and Washington and NATO must act.”

Source: TRT World

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