This post was published in Free Press. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.
MOSCOW, (BM) – In recent months, the conflict between Turkey and Greece has sharply escalated over the disputed gas fields on the Cyprus shelf, which are being developed by Ankara. Moreover, the conflict caused a split in the unity of the European Union, since Cyprus demanded tough measures against Turkey, threatening to block the introduction of sanctions against Belarus.
Among those who are most consistently in favor of tough measures against Ankara, France occupies a special place. It is worth remembering that France was one of those countries that contributed to the formation of an independent Greek state and has always consistently supported Athens, including in conflicts with Turkey, which more than once put countries on the brink of war, and only NATO membership of both prevented such a scenario.
Emmanuel Macron continued this tradition, and today he is the main political opponent of his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Europe. Sometimes one gets the impression that Macron has a personal dislike for the Turkish leader.
“We have to be tough with the Turkish government, not the Turkish people, who deserve more than Erdogan’s government,” Macron said during the Med-7 summit.
Another quote: “Turkey is no longer a partner in the Mediterranean region” and that today’s meeting aims to clarify its red lines and approach to Turkish aggression against Greece and Cyprus.”
Why is Macron so actively intervening in this conflict and actively opposing Turkey? Let me remind you that in neighboring Libya they are also on opposite sides of the barricades. Is he just earning personal political capital? Or something else?
Following the Med-7 meeting, a communiqué was adopted, in which the parties warned about drawing up a list of sanctions in the event that Turkey continues geological exploration on the Cyprus sea shelf. At the same time, we must assume that at the summit the leaders of the countries were engaged not only in expressing verbal support for Greece and Cyprus. According to some reports, on the sidelines, Macron and Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis discussed agreements on defense cooperation between the two countries, the purchase of Rafale multipurpose fighters and other French defense equipment.
What does this mean? Should we expect a war? And what role can France play here?
Recall that conflicts between Athens and Ankara, which can lead to a real military clash, arise regularly. Until now, it has been possible to extinguish them through the efforts of NATO and, first of all, the United States, which are most interested in the unity of the alliance. Once, however, it came down to a real war around Cyprus, the situation with which remains unresolved to this day, and it seems that current events further postpone its solution.
But today, Ankara’s relations with Washington, frankly, are not the best, as well as with Europe. In addition, according to Europe, Erdogan crossed all the acceptable “red lines”.
The apotheosis of the escalation of the conflict over the disputed fields was the June incident, when a Turkish frigate refused to comply with an order to inspect cargo by a French frigate as part of the EU mission to monitor compliance with the UN arms embargo on Libya. At the same time, the Turkish warship took aim at the French one, which in France was described as “extremely hostile and aggressive actions.”
At the end of August, France, together with Greece, Italy and the Republic of Cyprus, held military exercises near the disputed island, which are reportedly only the first phase of an initiative to strengthen a quadrilateral naval and air force presence in the Eastern Mediterranean. The exercise was a response to the actions of Ankara, which sent its research vessel Oruc Reis, accompanied by a group of warships for seismic surveys on the Greek offshore shelf off the island of Kastelorizo. In Athens, it was called a provocation and the armed forces were put on alert, stressing that Greece would defend its sovereign rights by any means.
And here is Erdogan’s quote in response to the statements of the French president: “Mr. Macron, you will have many more problems with me. Better not to mess with the Turkish people and Turkey.” It already looks like a threat.
Let us remind you that Paris is already preparing to supply combat aircraft to the Greeks. In response, Ankara aimed the S-400 air defense system at the disputed sea area and announced its intention to acquire Russian fifth-generation Su-57 multipurpose fighters.
However, the big question is: will it come to a direct military clash between France and Turkey? The Turkish Armed Forces are considered the second most powerful in NATO after the United States. But France is a nuclear power. Nevertheless, in the event of a repetition of the June incident, the conflict can erupt from one careless movement.
It should be noted that Washington’s position is not very clear. The United States recently lifted a multi-year arms embargo on Cyprus, sparking anger in Ankara. On the other hand, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cautiously hinted at the need to take into account the interests of the Turkish population when developing the Cyprus field and scolded the President of Cyprus for allowing Russian warships to stop in Cypriot ports. So whose side is Washington on, and is it ready at all, as before, to become a moderator of the conflict? And how can this conflict end?
“Nobody canceled French interests in the Mediterranean, Africa and the Middle East. France still behaves like a business in many former colonies and in their neighbors,” says Igor Shatrov, head of the expert council of the Strategic Development Fund.
“And even though the same Libya was at one time an Italian, and not a French colony, it has always remained a staging ground for the struggle between the French crown and the Ottoman Empire. In different years, there were grounds for this. Now it is hydrocarbons and a long coastline that allows you to control the flow of migrants from Africa to Europe. The support of Greece and Cyprus in the confrontation with Turkey is another of the bastions of this French-Turkish confrontation” also he said.
FP – According to many experts, Paris and Athens are moving towards the conclusion of an anti-Turkish defensive alliance, Paris, moreover, is actively arming Greece. Is this not an escalation? What is this for? Will it come to real military clashes?
“Erdogan has started a risky geopolitical game, in which the nuclear powers – Russia, the USA, France, Great Britain are also involved. Playing on the contradictions between them and between them and other countries, he raises his own stakes and gradually turns Turkey into the leading power in the region. Libya and Cyprus – the bridgeheads of this war.
At the same time, I do not think that there is an armed conflict with France and Greece in the plans of the Turkish “big game”. This is disadvantageous for Turkey, France and Greece. It is not profitable, because it is hopeless, you still have to put up, and it will look like a defeat. However, these NATO allies will continue to bite each other. After all, tension outside is easily “sold” inside. Both Erdogan and Macron have a need for such foreign policy activity. It allows you to more confidently talk with the voter. While the “great Western helmsman” – the United States is busy with its internal problems, and on the foreign policy agenda they get off with loud, but rhetoric, both France and Turkey are capable of forceful actions “on the ground.” As long as no one is following, it seems that Paris and Ankara are thinking that there is an opportunity to reallocate both resources and influence. But for a real collision, very good reasons are needed.”
“FP”: – And what about Washington? He does not have a very good relationship with Erdogan. They lifted a multi-year arms embargo on Cyprus. On the other hand, it is also unprofitable to turn Turkey against yourself.
“Washington has its own problems now a wagon and a small cart. At the very least, before the presidential elections, internal issues in the White House will be a priority. And it is this respite that we intend to take advantage of both in Paris and in Ankara. For all that, it is clear that the United States needs Turkey as a Middle East gendarme. And the US has a tool to influence Turkey. This is a Kurdish question. So, as soon as the opportunity presents itself, the United States will not miss its chance to intervene and cool the allies by keeping them in one bloc.”
“On the face of the conflict of ideologies. Simply put: Erdogan wants to revive the Ottoman Empire, while Macron acts as a representative of the Mondialist elites. That is, from a position directly opposite. The Mondialists are extremely irritated by Erdogan’s claims to resurrect Greater Turkey, while Erdogan is behaving too impulsively. Hence these constantly sparking conflicts. And of course the interests of the French in Libya and other former French colonies. While Erdogan claims to be the protector of all traditional Islam”.
“FP”: – France is actively arming Greece. Is this not an escalation? What is this for? How can this end?
“I think nothing. In any case, as long as the leading geopolitical players – Russia and the United States – do not intend to stir up the conflict. As for Russia, you can be completely calm here – she does not need a war. It’s more difficult with America. If Trump remains in power, he certainly will not allow conflict. If democrats come to power, and with them the globalist agenda and frostbitten neocons return to the current politics, you can expect anything. First of all, the escalation of the Middle East conflicts, followed by a chain reaction, in which Erdogan’s conflict with Macron and Greece can play an important role.
The positions of Democrats and Conservatives in the United States are directly opposite. Trump stands for a traditional multipolar world, a world of several centers of power on which the stability of the world will be based. In this broad sense, both big Turkey and big Russia are its strategic allies. Democrats are for global peace with one single center of power. This means: for turning the whole world into a zone of “controlled chaos”. If Biden wins, everything will change. Sooner or later (rather sooner, they will make up for the lost time during the Trump presidency) the whole world will be ignited by smoldering and hot conflicts, this is inevitable. At the same time, the peoples will be driven under house arrest by covid quarantines and fearful of the consequences.”
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