How the war in Ukraine changes Turkey’s stance in the eastern Mediterranean


The Russian invasion and the war raging in Ukraine since February 24 have changed in a short period of time the broader defense, geopolitical and economic data in Europe and the world. Decades of foreign policy, defense and security have been shaken, “red lines” have been drawn and many analysts are talking about entering a new era. In such an international environment that is literally “boiling”, Turkey seems to be reviewing its foreign policy.

In the shadow of a deep economic crisis and after a period of escalation in the eastern Mediterranean region, Turkey is now appearing to be more compromising, “balancing” and “mediating”, as the latest German media have described it – a necessary NATO partner it can bring to same table Moscow and Kyiv. This new role that Turkey seems to be claiming and the wider implications from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Black Sea was the subject of a recent online event by the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMFUS) in collaboration with the Med Dialogues program under its auspices. Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A more modest Ankara by necessity

Turkey’s position in the Eastern Mediterranean under the influence of the Ukrainian is analyzed in DW by Ian Lesser, Vice President and Executive Director of the GMFUS Foundation: “I believe that Ankara wants to appear more moderate than its assertive attitude in previous years. This concerns both the Mediterranean and the. Mediterranean in particular. “I believe that the war in Ukraine is what has put Turkey in a more difficult position, so that a stance that causes stress to its NATO partners, including Greece and the United States, is no longer viable.”

The American expert underlines the special geostrategic position of Turkey from if. Mediterranean to the Black Sea and the Caucasus, close contacts with Russia and Ukraine and therefore its importance for security in the wider region. All this composes a set of factors that de facto upgrade its role within NATO at the moment. “However, I do not believe that the creeping tensions in if. Mediterranean can be easily solved. “They existed for many years,” he notes. “But if Turkey continues to worry about an increasingly aggressive Russia and seeing instability on its borders, I believe it could come to a closer relationship with NATO. It will not be an easy relationship. It has never been easy. “But it may not be as intense as it has been in recent years.” After all, as he reminds, in the past there have been corresponding periods of rapprochement and closer relations with neighbors-NATO partners, such as Greece.

For him, however, President Erdogan still envisions a more “independent” Turkey on the international chessboard, but this seems difficult to implement in a world that is becoming increasingly unstable.

Cyprus 1974 – Ukraine 2022;

Asked whether one could compare the Russian invasion of Ukraine with the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, Ian Lesser said: “I would be very careful to draw many parallels. At a very basic level there are some similarities regarding the violation of national sovereignty and territorial integrity. “But more or less the similarities end there.” But one thing that is common has to do with the fact that Turkey has suffered from sanctions, especially from the US for many years after. International sanctions can last a long time with multifaceted, adverse effects.

The fact is that Russia’s actions in Ukraine, from the annexation of Crimea in 2014 to the Russian aggression of 2022, lead many analysts to speak of the end of diplomacy and international law and the beginning of a new era – in essence a very old one. -, where the creation of perpetrators using military force prevails. Ian Lesser has the opposite view. He considers that the “shock of the Russian invasion” and the “huge encroachment on the Ukrainian territorial integrity” lead many states, and therefore its states if. Mediterranean, to reconsider their position on the importance of national borders and international law as a means of safeguarding territorial integrity.

Finally in terms of creating new energy routes or reviving projects that have been frozen in its area if. Mediterranean as a result of the war in Ukraine, Ian Lesser believes that such a thing is possible “if one takes into account the rise in energy prices as well as concerns about energy security.” He stressed, however, that similar projects “that can come out of the drawer again” should also be “credible and commercially attractive”. He even believes that the countries of the region should focus on “regional cooperation”, focusing more on non-renewable sources than on fossil fuels.

Deutsche Welle

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