June 30, 2020
Europe disunited on how to face Turkey
Russia and Turkey have a clear responsibility in Libya, while the EU needs a common strategy. So far it seems the EU's messages are all over the place, and as ever it is easy to divide the member states. It is easy to agree that a political solution to stabilise the region would be best. But what if this is not in the cards? At the moment it looks like Turkey and its Libyan allies are getting ready to push towards the strategically important regions of Sirte and al-Jufra next month, according to Al-Monitor. Is the EU ready for this?
Emmanuel Macron had a call with Vladimir Putin last week, and came out with the promise of further trust-building talks. This is a stark contrast to Angela Merkel, who just the weekend before warned about Russia's hybrid warfare destabilising Europe. In Meseberg Macron made an effort to bridge the differences, acknowledging the Kremlin's ambivalence about taking responsibility for what happens in Libya.
Macron, on the other hand, increased his charges against Turkey yesterday, saying its involvement is a historic and criminal responsibility for a Nato member. He accuses Turkey of not respecting any of the conditions from the Berlin peace initiative, instead increasing its military presence and re-importing extremists from Syria to join the fight. This poses a risk for all neighbouring countries and for Europe. Turkey's conduct in Libya is unacceptable, but what does this mean in practice? Interestingly, as noted by Ulrich Speck, Merkel decided not to comment on Libya.
Greece, meanwhile, played on de-escalation with Turkey. Kyriakos Mitsotakis had a call with Recep Tayyip Erdogan last Friday. This was meant as an ice-breaking mission, starting with low-conflict subjects such as opening the borders for tourists. The call was widely seen as a first step toward restoring communication channels between Athens and Ankara after months of heightened tensions.