Turkey’s power projection risks military clash in Mediterranean, former PM says

Turkey’s power projection risks military clash in Mediterranean, former PM says
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Updated 04 September 2020

Turkey’s power projection risks military clash in Mediterranean, former PM says

Turkey’s power projection risks military clash in Mediterranean, former PM says
  • Ahmet Davutoglu’s ‘zero problems with neighbors’ mantra was a hallmark of Erdogan’s early dealings with Europe and ME

ANKARA: Turkey risks military confrontation in the Eastern Mediterranean because it prizes power over diplomacy, a former prime minister who championed a less confrontational policy in the first decade of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rule told Reuters.
Ahmet Davutoglu, whose “zero problems with neighbors” mantra was a hallmark of Erdogan’s early dealings with Europe and the Middle East, broke with the president’s ruling AK Party last year to set up the rival Gelecek (Future) Party.
He criticized what he described as a lurch toward authoritarianism under Turkey’s new executive presidency, and accused the government of mishandling a series of challenges including the economy, the coronavirus outbreak and the growing tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Last month Turkey sent a survey vessel, escorted by frigates, to explore for oil and gas in waters claimed by Greece, a move Athens said was illegal. The two NATO allies are locked in a dispute over the extent of their continental shelves and maritime economic zones.
The European Union, backing EU members Greece and Cyprus, has imposed minor sanctions against Turkey, and a collision between Greek and Turkish warships shadowing the survey vessel last month highlighted the potential for military escalation.
Davutoglu said Ankara had genuine grievances over Greek claims to tens of thousands of square kilometers of sea extending up to Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, but added that Erdogan’s approach carried high risks.
“Unfortunately our government is not doing a proper diplomatic performance,” he said in an interview, warning that if both Greece and Turkey prefer “power projections” over diplomacy, “at any time any crisis may erupt and escalate.”
Time to talk
Turkey should say clearly to the EU: “‘Let’s come around the table and share all views’,” Davutoglu said. It should also sit down with Greece to “discuss all matters (and) deescalate the tension.”
Erdogan’s government said it was on the verge of announcing a resumption of talks with Greece last month when Athens signed a deal setting out its maritime border with Egypt — an agreement which cut across waters claimed by Turkey.
Ankara cut off the process in protest, and a visit to Greece and Turkey by Germany’s foreign minister last week appeared to make no headway. EU leaders will discuss the standoff later this month and could take further action against Turkey.
Davutoglu, who served as Erdogan’s foreign minister from 2009 to 2014 and then as prime minister for two subsequent years, worked to strengthen Turkish ties and influence in the Mediterranean and Middle East.
But years of talks with Greece were suspended in 2016, and Davutoglu’s Middle East strategy was derailed in the turmoil of the Arab uprisings, when relations with Syria and Egypt collapsed over Ankara’s support for Muslim Brotherhood groups.
Davutoglu’s Future Party is one of two which has broken away from Erdogan’s AKP. Neither has registered above low single figures in recent polls, but by eroding the AKP’s support they have made Erdogan’s quest for a majority in elections due by 2023 more challenging.


Iraq delays general election to Oct. 10

Iraq delays general election to Oct. 10
Updated 4 min 41 sec ago

Iraq delays general election to Oct. 10

Iraq delays general election to Oct. 10
  • Early elections were a key demand of anti-government protesters who staged mass demonstrations that started in October 2019

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s cabinet decided on Tuesday to postpone the general election to Oct. 10 from June, the state news agency INA said.
The elections had been brought forward to June 6, roughly a year early, following a proposal by Iraq’s Independent High Election Commission (IHEC), which wanted more time to organize the polls.
Early elections were a key demand of anti-government protesters who staged mass demonstrations that started in October 2019. Hundreds were killed by security forces and gunmen suspected of links to militia groups.