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July 24, 2020

Can Turkey be stopped?

France and Germany are on opposite ends when it comes to diplomacy towards Turkey. Germany orchestrated a couple of confidential talks between Turkey and Greece over the last ten days to defuse the high-stake tensions over Turkish plans to seek oil and gas in Greek territorial waters. Emmanuel Macron advocated EU sanctions if Turkey lived up to its threats. Two big EU players, two different diplomatic approaches. One could say it is a good cop-bad cop strategy, but this is clearly not a co-ordinated approach.

Will this bring Turkey's assertive moves in the Mediterranean to a halt? The confidential meetings Angela Merkel organised were leaked to the press by the Turkish Foreign minister, which was perceived in Athens as an effort to undermine the whole process before it got a real chance to get underway. As for the threat of sanctions, the chief adviser to Recep Tayyip Erdogan boasted that sanctions would not deter Turkey from pursuing its national interest.

For the time being, though, Turkey has decided not to proceed with its seismic survey south and east of the Greek island of Kastellorizo, as announced for the period of July 21-August 2. The Turkish government cites weather conditions, but developments in Libya and relations with the EU and Russia may have played their part in delaying the move, too, writes Macropolis. Today, when the Hagia Sophia turns into a mosque on the anniversary of the signing of the Lausanne Treaty defining the borders of modern Turkey, may be decisive for Ankara to determine its next moves. 

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