January 22, 2020
Erdogan and European Libya diplomacy
Recep Tayyip Erdogan knows just how to get under the skin of Europeans. On Monday Erdogan provoked Italy claiming that Ankara was in talks with Rome about drilling off Libya in the maritime zone defined by the Turkish-Libyan sea border deal, which Greece and the EU had condemned as illegal. Rome had to put out a statement saying that Erdogan's claim of negotiations with Rome is unfounded.
In Berlin, Erdogan also lashed out against the Greek prime minister, who had invited General Khalifa Haftar for talks to Athens on Friday. Erdogan said that, by doing so, the Greeks seeked to provoke Turkey and they needed to correct their mistake. Naturally he completely ignored his own part in this multi-layered provocation game.
Athens made no secret that its wish to be involved in Libya was a way to get the Turkish-Libyan maritime border deal off the table. Haftar's visit and his official criticism of the maritime border deal was a way for the Greek government to demonstrate that they matter, even if they were not invited to the Berlin talks. Greece is now putting its efforts into the next stage of the Berlin peace process for Libya. Kyriakos Mitsoutakis and his foreign minister are expected to meet with foreign leaders and diplomats to insist that there can be no political solution in Libya without the Turkish-Libyan sea border accords being annulled first, writes Macropolis.
The outcome of the Berlin talks, meanwhile, did not impress Libya experts and twitter-sphere. A truce but no ceasefire; an arms embargo that is likely to hurt the prime minister Fayez al-Sarraj more than General Haftar; and a useless decision by EU foreign ministers to revive Operation Sophia, the EU's naval mission in the Central Mediterranean which had already failed to enforce an earlier UN arms embargo it was tasked with protecting.