Turkey’s Dangerous Diplomacy in the Mediterranean
In an interview with On Alert, Director of GMF’s Brussels office Ian Lesser analyzed Turkey’s involvement in Libya, its implications for Greece, and the role of the United States in the region.
According to Lesser, Turkey, left with few friends in the region, does not intend to get involved in Libya on a long-term basis because this would be “very costly for all sorts of reasons.” However, Ankara is getting involved on the short-term to “have the Libyan government on their side on the question of maritime demarcations in the Eastern Mediterranean,” he said.
Turkey’s stance on the contested issue of oil and gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean has become much more assertive, Lesser argued. Turkish President Erdogan is using the issue “for political advantage inside Turkey, where there is a broad consensus around the sovereignty question,” Lesser said, even though he certainly does not intend to “push things too far.”
For the United States, the Eastern Mediterranean remains an area of national interest, but U.S. policy in the region has become unpredictable. While relations between the United States and Turkey have “gone from bad to worse in recent years,” the opposite holds true for U.S.-Greek relations, which are now “much much closer,” Lesser said.