Greece should allow France to open naval base in Aegean Sea


France’s policy in the Middle East and North Africa marked by the heritage of Charles de Gaulle, places France as a counterweight, in a region formerly dominated by the Americans and the Soviets.Paris policy in the region is structured around three pillars.

First: A speech on human rights, in which France legitimized its intervention in Libya.

Second: A logic of security, which insists on the primacy of the fight against radical Islam and terrorism under which France intervened in Syria alongside the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) against Daesh.

Third: An economic strategy, which has led to the alignment of new alliances and its own economic interests. One of those countries is Egypt, which is a key ally of the Tobruk-based Libyan parliament. Its rival is the Turkish-backed government in the Libyan capital of Tripoli whose mandate expired in December 2017.

Turkey and France have been locked in an escalating war of words against Libya. This reflects their contrasting interests in the conflict in this oil-rich North African country. Ankara has sent weapons and military advisers to aid the UN-backed government in Tripoli and pushed back forces in Tobruk, which is backed by powers such as Russia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Even in the Middle East, Turkey and France have contrasting interests in Lebanon and Syria, with each side helping different local actors.

Turkey’s expansionist policies in the Middle East and Africa do not stop there but have also developed in the waters of the eastern Mediterranean, bringing it closer to a collision course with Greece and Cyprus. Naturally, these two countries have drawn closer to France and their common allies in the region.

Turkey has continued an aggressive gas exploration effort. His research vessel conducts research inside the Greek maritime zone (in accordance with the 1983 Maritime Law Convention which Turkey has not signed) and is protected by Turkish Navy warships. There he encountered rival Greek ships. Even when a Turkish frigate was damaged while trying to hit a Greek frigate, Turkey did not withdraw its forces.

Tensions remain high as Turkey continues to threaten chaos and war, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly told his domestic audience and diplomatic channels abroad.

A German delegation that tried to end the crisis failed miserably because it fell on deaf Turkish ears.

France has engaged alongside Greece, sending fighter jets and ships alongside the United Arab Emirates, which is a mutual ally of Greece and France. Turkey has a much more assertive foreign policy, which some have equated with a resurgence of the former Ottoman Empire.

Erdoğan’s geographical horizons have certainly widened.

Turkey’s strategic position has changed since the end of the Cold War with the disappearance of the resolutely secular state and its replacement by an Islamist state that is growing year by year.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) saw a vibrant and growing Turkish economy to help establish the nation as an actor with regional reach. Recently, the Turkish economy may have weakened, but Erdoğan shows no signs of pulling in his horns.

On the other side, after a financial crisis that lasted for nearly a decade, Greece is working to modernize its navy, modernize its fleet of F-16 fighter jets and strengthen military ties with allies. traditional, as well as with Turkey’s regional rivals including Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

What should the country’s reaction be to this growing threat? The answer is increased cooperation with allies in all sectors. Greece can also offer France something that it lacks in the region.

A stable base of operations like the UK has in Cyprus.

With this move, only the benefits can come from both sides.

One place of such a base could be Leros Island in the Dodecanese Islands which already has naval facilities and can be used in a short time to accommodate warships of almost any type. Of course, there are other places that can accommodate the French navy in the Greek islands or even in Cyprus which still today has 40% of its land under Turkish occupation since 1974 with the excuse of protecting the Turkish Cypriot minority.

France will benefit enormously because it will be able to use such a base for its counterterrorism operations in the Middle East and increase its naval operations and its influence in the region. In return, Greece, Cyprus and France will sign a mutual military pact in the event of any conflict that may arise, marking a new era for the population of all participants.

If you want peace, prepare for war.

The views of author Kostas Karampetsos do not necessarily reflect those of the Greek City Times.


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