Turkish FM pays working visit to UK
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu arrived in London on July 8 for a working visit amid rising regional tensions to discuss issues, mainly migration, the Libyan war and conflicting resource claims in the eastern Mediterranean.
“Turkey-U.K. bilateral relations including the Brexit transition period, tourism, the fight against COVID-19 and current regional and international issues will be discussed at the meetings between Çavuşoğlu and his counterpart Hon. Dominic Raab,” the Foreign Ministry said in a written statement.
The U.K. withdrew from the EU on Jan. 31 after 47 years of membership, yet its departure process brought along many economic uncertainties, including question marks over how the relations between the U.K. and EU and its other major economic partners, including Turkey, will take shape.
Çavuşoğlu holds talks with German, Irish ministers
The Turkish minister also had phone conversations with his German and Irish counterparts on July 7. Çavuşoğlu discussed tourism and bilateral relations as well as the latest developments in Libya and the eastern Mediterranean with Germany’s Heiko Maas and Ireland’s Simon Coveney.
Germany and Turkey have been in talks on tourism and the former’s conditions for lifting coronavirus-related travel restrictions.
The Libyan conflict has also been a hot topic in Turkey’s foreign policy agenda with its partners.
Libya has been torn by a civil war since the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The country’s new government was founded in 2015 under a U.N.-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement failed due to a military offensive by warlord Khalifa Haftar’s forces.
The U.N. recognizes the Libyan government headed by Fayez al-Sarraj as the country’s legitimate authority.
In November 2019, Turkey and Libya signed landmark pacts on military cooperation, as well as maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean Sea.
Under the deal, Turkey sent advisers to help Libyan forces defeat Haftar’s militias.
The Libyan government launched Operation Peace Storm against Haftar in March to counter his attacks on the capital since April 2019, and recently liberated strategic locations including al-Watiya airbase and the city of Tarhuna, Haftar’s last stronghold in western Libya.
The maritime pact between Ankara and Tripoli asserted Turkey’s rights in the eastern Mediterranean in the face of unilateral drilling by the Greek Cypriot administration, clarifying that Turkish Cyprus also had rights to resources in the area. It went into effect on Dec. 8, 2019.
Meanwhile, the EU will discuss further sanctions against Turkey due to the dispute in the eastern Mediterranean and Libya.
“At our request, there will be a meeting of EU foreign ministers on July 13 solely on the Turkish question,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told a parliamentary hearing on July 1.
“Sanctions have already been taken on Turkey by the EU over Turkey’s drilling in the Cyprus economic zone. Other sanctions may be envisaged,” he stated.
As relations deteriorated between the EU and Turkey, the block imposed a travel ban and asset freezes on two people in February for their role in Turkey’s search for natural gas and oil drilling off Cyprus.