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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Press review Turkey, France, and Nato

The Economist thinks that Turkey is wobbling on how to deal with the protests spreading in its neighborhood. Erdoğan was among the first to call for Mubarak's resignation in Egypt, but he first failed to support the no-fly zone in Libya, only to then sent four frigates, a submarine, and another warship to support Nato's efforts there. As the protests and the violent crackdowns spread, the Economist warns that "When it comes to Syria, sitting on the fence may not be an option." Turkey's EU Minister, Egemen Bağış, has a different take (from Word Bullentin):
Turkey did not take a U-turn over Libya. But we have prevented a fait accompli in Libya. An unplanned and unprogrammed NATO intervention would have taken place weeks before before waiting for a United Nations resolution.
David Judson at Hürriyet thinks that the current events in the region highlight Turkey's significance to the EU. In his view, most
issues fade... behind Turkey’s growing profile and its assets that can help solve the region’s increasing turmoil.
And he quotes Swedish foreign minister, Carl Bildt, who noted that “The Turks
have been engaged at high levels in Syria in recent weeks."

France 24's Gaëlle Le Roux examines the diplomatic tensions between France and Turkey as an important source of the recent friction over the Nato operation in the skies over Libya. Le Roux quotes Didier Billion, a Turkey specialist at the Paris-based Institute of International and Strategic Relations (IRIS):
The French executive has a tendency not to trust the Turks. They don’t like their growing influence and they don’t like them taking the initiative in the region. It is an absurd diplomatic position to take.
It seems clear that both Turkey and its allies are struggling to make sense of Turkey's new role in its neighborhood.

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