Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

The Turkish president qualifies Emmanuel Macron as "alleged Napoleon in the Mediterranean campaign"

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Friday, September 11th 2020 à 15:10 | Read 423 times

Seven countries of Southern Europe met in Corsica to discuss, mainly, the problems with Turkey (photo: Elysée).
Seven countries of Southern Europe met in Corsica to discuss, mainly, the problems with Turkey (photo: Elysée).
MEDITERRANEAN. Gathered on Thursday, September 10, 2020 in Porticcio, near Ajaccio, under the MED7 format, the southern countries of the European Union* threatened Turkey with sanctions, describing its maneuvers in the Mediterranean as a "hegemonic game".

The Summit produced an eighteen-point final declaration "underlining the strategic importance of the southern neighbourhood for Europe" and the need to "further consolidate Euro-Mediterranean relations, in particular by strengthening the Union for the Mediterranean and the 5+5 Dialogue and promoting the progress achieved by the Summit on both sides of the Western Mediterranean".

The text indicates the willingness of the participating countries to "give a new impetus to the overall European policy in the Mediterranean, with the aim of strengthening the capacity of the EU and its Member States to respond collectively to the various difficulties in the region". And the first of these is currently the relations with Turkey, which occupy two of the points of the declaration. The 6th on the contestation of the gas exploration rights of Greece and Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean, and, without this country being mentioned, the 7th where "opposition to all foreign interference in this conflict, wherever it comes from" is reaffirmed and specified "We also remain ready to adopt sanctions against those involved in the violation of the embargo and human rights, as well as those who oppose the political process".

"Stop the provocation and begin the dialogue"

MED7 affirms its "full support" and its "full solidarity with Cyprus and Greece in the face of the repeated attacks on their sovereignty and sovereign rights and the aggressive measures taken by Turkey". Point 6 of the declaration continues "we regret that Turkey has not responded to the repeated calls of the European Union to put an end to its unilateral and illegal activities in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea. We reaffirm our determination to use all appropriate means at the disposal of the European Union to respond to these aggressive actions. Following the last informal meeting of EU Foreign Ministers (Gymnich), we agree to accelerate work on additional entries on the sanctions list on the basis of proposals already on the table, with a view to their early adoption. We maintain that if Turkey does not make progress on the path of dialogue and does not end its unilateral activities, the EU is ready to prepare a list of additional restrictive measures that could be discussed at the European Council on 24-25 September 2020".

The threat is clear and supported by several statements. Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Prime Minister of Greece, was thus firm: "We discussed the stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, the escalation of tensions and the provocative attitude of Turkey, which challenges the sovereignty and sovereign rights of two EU member countries, and which continues to be illegally present on the territory of an EU member country, Cyprus. Turkey seems to want less and less dialogue. And I believe that point 6 of our communiqué sends a very clear message to Turkey: if it really wants a sincere dialogue with Greece, with Cyprus and with the EU, it must prove it to us: it must stop any unilateral action and show that it respects international law in its entirety and not selectively. And therefore stop the provocation and start the dialogue. This is what we want. Before September 24 and the European summit, we want to avoid being divided, to fall into the trap of division into which Turkey wants to drag us. Turkey must stop its search and all unilateral activity, it must stop its aggressive rhetoric, it must return to the negotiating table from which it withdrew in 2016. And of course, if this constructive dialogue cannot move forward, there is always the International Tribunal in The Hague".

French President Emmanuel Macron is following him in this field and, a few hours before the Summit, had already indicated that he no longer "considers Turkey as a partner in this region. His Cypriot counterpart, Nicos Anastasiades, speaks of "real risks of destabilization in the Mediterranean because of Turkey's threats" and asks the European Union to "use all means (...) to avoid a catastrophic conflict for the entire region.

"It is not up to Macron to make the delimitation of the zones."

It didn't take long before Recep Tayyip Erdogan, via his communications director, was amused by the situation and continued the little warlike phrases towards Emmanuel Macron. The Turkish president now speaks of "an alleged Napoleon and his Mediterranean campaign". Echoing this, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a communiqué, castigated the "arrogant declarations, in an old colonialist reflex" of the French president.

"Wounded in the soul, Macron, whose vicious foreign policy plans we have thwarted, is attacking Turkey and our President of the Republic every day," noted Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, letting it slip that "it is not Macron's job to demarcate the zones (. ...) Instead of being an advocate for Greece and the Greek-Cypriot administration, which are taking the EU hostage for their own interests, France should rather choose negotiation and dialogue. This is what is expected of a member of the EU and an ally of NATO.
The day before, Turkish diplomacy had recalled that "the times when France did what it wanted everywhere in the world are over".
As for weeks, Ankara has been asking the EU to remain "impartial".

The next MED7 Summit will take place in Greece.

* Cyprus, Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal

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