European Parliament to discuss Turkey’s influence in the Mediterranean

Members of European Parliament will today discuss escalating tensions between Turkey and fellow European NATO allies over Ankara’s recent geopolitical

Turkey Reuters

Photo: Reuters

Members of European Parliament will today discuss escalating tensions between Turkey and fellow European NATO allies over Ankara’s recent geopolitical manoeuvres in the eastern Mediterranean.

The plenary debate will focus on the Turkish navy’s recent maritime confrontations with French and Greek naval vessels—operating under NATO and EU mandates, respectively—during which Turkish forces prevented foreign officers from inspecting a Tanzania-flagged cargo ship suspected of supplying arms to Libyan civil war factions. The conflict has compounded recent concerns over Turkish hydrocarbon exploration in territories claimed by Greece and Cyprus, which has provoked the imposition of EU sanctions.

The clashes are the latest in a series of intense infighting between NATO members, which has led French President Emmanuel Macron to claim that the coalition is suffering a “brain death”. Relations between Athens and Ankara are particularly thorny, with the Greek Foreign Ministry citing daily violations of its borders and threatening military action in response.

Expect the EU to attempt to broker a resolution between the attending parties. Diplomatic progress at today’s meeting could serve to strengthen long-term NATO ties after a period of pointed tensions, while a regression could achieve the opposite. However, a rift could prove more likely given Turkey’s promised response in the event of further sanctions and “refusal” to be held hostage by Greece and Cyprus. According to analysts, Turkey now considers itself capable enough to adopt a unilateral foreign policy and could potentially reject the pursuit of its frozen accession to the EU.

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