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Turkey sees tourist traffic increase from Iran


4 January 2020 15:28 (UTC+04:00)

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Ankara threatens to close down U.S. Air Force base in Turkey – Defence Blog


A senior Turkish official said that Ankara threatening to close down the U.S. Air Force Incirlik Air Base.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a statement that Ankara may insist that the U.S. leave Incirlik air base if Washington goes ahead with the sanctions it has threatened in response to Turkey’s purchase of S-400 air defense systems.

“We will assess the worst-case scenario and make a decision. If the US imposes sanctions against Turkey, then the issue of the Incirlik and Kurecik bases may be on the agenda,” Cavusoglu said.

Deliveries of the latest Russian-made S-400 air defense systems, which caused a significant rift in relations between Turkey and the United States, began in July. According to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the S-400 will be fully operational in April 2020.

The vast Incirlik Air Base, located in southern Turkey close to Syria, has been a longstanding symbol of U.S.-Turkish cooperation. At the height of the Cold War, it underscored America’s commitment to its NATO partner against the Soviet Union.

Incirlik Air Base has a U.S. Air Force complement of about five thousand airmen, with several hundred airmen from the Royal Air Force and Turkish Air Force also present. The primary unit stationed at Incirlik Air Base is the 39th Air Base Wing (39 ABW) of the U.S. Air Force. Incirlik Air Base has one 3,048 m (10,000 ft)-long runway, located among about 57 hardened aircraft shelters.

It is worthwhile noting that estimated B61 nuclear gravity bombs stored at İncirlik airbase, which is about 100 miles from the Syrian border and which the US air force shares with its Turkish counterpart.

Of the five nuclear weapons storage locations in Europe, Incirlik Air Base in Turkey stores one-third of the weapons in Europe, although there are unconfirmed rumors that the weapons may have been withdrawn.

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EU ministers criticize recent memorandum between #Libya and #Turkey on the #EasternMediterranean


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Fayez al-Sarraj, chairman of the Presidential Council of Libya

Arriving at today’s (9 December) EU Foreign Affairs Council, Josep Borrell Fontelles, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission was asked about the recent memorandum between Turkey and Libya that would give access to a contested zone across the Mediterranean Sea.

The memorandum of understanding on maritime borders signed between Turkey and the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord is thought to have no legal standing and contravenes the provisions of the International Law of the Sea. Egypt, Greece, Cyprus and France, along with the EU and the US State Department. US State Department. The US State Department spokesperson stated: “The announcement of a signed Turkish-GNA delimitation memorandum of understanding has raised tensions in the region and is unhelpful and provocative.”

The agreement was endorsed by the Turkish parliament last week and prompted Greece to expel the Libyan ambassador to Greece. The agreement aggravates tensions that already exist over exploratory drilling in Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone and a long-running dispute of Turkey with Greece, Cyprus and Egypt over oil and gas drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean.

Greece has expelled the Libyan ambassador in response to the deal. Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said that he sided with Greece on the respect for international law. The Austrian minister for foreign affairs, Alexander Schallenberg said he was “a little bit astounding how they (Turkey and Libya GNA) split up the Mediterranean between themselves.”

Josep Borrell said that “it’s not a matter of sanctions today,” adding that ministers would study the “memorandum of understanding” agreed upon between Turkey and Libya. The Turkish and Libyan GNA  MoU also includes a deal on expanded security and military cooperation. The agreement is considered to be illegal since it is contrary to the International Law of the Sea and has not been reached with the consideration of the legitimate rights of other states in the region.

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Tags: Blok, Borrell, EU High Representative, exclusive economic zone, Greece, Libya, Turkey

Category: A Frontpage, Economy, EU, EU, European Commission, Politics





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Leaders of UK, France, Germany, Turkey discuss Syria



Ahead of the two-day NATO summit in London, four countries discussed their efforts to end the conflict in Syria.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met at the prime ministerial residence in London.

According to a statement from the British Prime Minister’s office, the leaders agreed that attacks against Syrian civilians, including in the rebel-held area of Idlib, must end.

The leaders vowed to work for creating conditions for safe return of refugees, and agreed the fight against terrorism in all its forms must continue. They also discussed Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring targeting the terrorist YPG/PKK in northern Syria. Merkel described the meeting as “good and useful”.

Erdogan also described the meeting as good, and added that developments regarding the operation “will be evaluated”.

In October, Turkey launched Peace Spring to eliminate YPG/PKK terrorists from northern Syria, in order to secure Turkey’s borders and aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees. Later, the operation was paused to allow the withdrawal of the terrorists from the planned Syria safe zone, but they, instead, continued attacking soldiers and civilians.



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Turkey, Libya delimitation deal raises geopolitical tensions



Turkey has signed an agreement with Libya’s internationally recognised government on maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean Sea that could affect oil and gas exploration of other countries and heighten geopolitical tensions in the volatile region.

Ankara reportedly announced the accord and a deal on expanded security and military cooperation on 28 November.

Cyprus Natural Hydrocarbons Company CEO Charles Ellinas told New Europe on 29 November that the immediate impact of the Libya-Turkey agreement is on the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of Greece and Egypt.

Both Greece and Egypt, but also Cyprus, have already strongly condemned this as not being in agreement with international law, blatantly ignoring the rights of islands. Cairo dismissed the deal between Ankara and Tripoli as “illegal” and Athens said the accord is “completely unacceptable” because it ignored the presence of the Greek island of Crete between the coasts of Turkey and Libya and summoned Turkish Ambassador Burak Ozugergin to the Greek Foreign Ministry, Greece’s Kathimerini newspaper reported.

Cyprus’ Foreign Ministry on 29 November also condemned the deal. “Such a delimitation, if done, would constitute a serious violation of international law,” an announcement said, CyprusMail reported. “It would be contrary to the recognised principle of the convention on the law of the sea and the rights of islands’ EEZ,” it added. “With the distortion of the law of the sea and the counterfeiting of geography – Turkey will gain no footing in the Eastern Mediterranean,” it concluded.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu claimed that with the memorandum of understanding on the “delimitation of maritime jurisdictions Turkey is protecting “rights deriving from international law.” Reuters quoted him as saying that such accords could be agreed with other countries if differences could be overcome and that Ankara was in favour of “fair sharing” of resources, including off Cyprus.

Constantinos Filis, director of research at Institute of International Relations, told New Europe on 29 November Turkey’s illegal acts do not have legal repercussions. “Ankara’s attempt to agree with an unstable regime, which represents only part of Libya and therefore any deal it signs is uncertain, is a result of its isolation particularly from energy developments. Given that Turkey cannot agree with any other regional actor not only in the delimitation of the continental shelve or EEZ but also on how to stabilize the region and make it prosperous, it is left with no option but to approach a semi-rogue regime in order to showcase its regional power,” he said, adding that the message it wants to send is that any agreement or plan, including energy projects, cannot be fulfilled without Ankara’s consent.

Ellinas said the Libya-Turkey agreement indirectly affects Cyprus as well, as Turkey uses the same justification to delineate its ‘EEZ’ in the Mediterranean. “In effect, this ignores the entitlement of islands, including Cyprus and Crete, to an EEZ. Turkey defines its ‘EEZ’ to be coextensive with its continental shelf, based the relative lengths of adjacent coastlines, which completely disadvantages islands. It is a ‘unique’ interpretation not shared by any other country and not in accordance to the United Nations UNCLOS treaty, ratified by 167 countries but not Turkey,” Ellinas said.

He argued that Ankara appears to be picking and choosing, as it has used UNLOS principles to delineate its ‘EEZ’ in the Black Sea but does not accept them in the Mediterranean. “That may be challengeable under customary international law,” the Cyprus Natural Hydrocarbons Company CEO said.

“In all likelihood Turkey is doing this, as well as through its aggressive actions in carrying out exploration and drilling in Cyprus’ EEZ, in order to establish a position of strength from which eventually to enter into negotiations. But also as a reaction to the growing cooperation among almost all the other countries bordering the East Med. Turkey’s claims have no internationally recognised legal basis,” Ellinas said.

According to Filis, it is not clear whether there is an agreement – rather, it seems to be a preliminary step of expressing their intention to sign an agreement in the future. “But the most dangerous repercussion might be Turkey’s attempt to use it as a basis for projecting its supposed sovereign right to proceed with seismic activities in the area between Rhodes and Crete, especially in the southeastern part of the matter, thus confirming its strategic interest for the triangle between Crete, Kastellorizo and Cyprus,” he said.

Asked what could be the US and EU reaction to this agreement and how does it affect geopolitics in the region, Ellinas said both Washington and Brussels, and all other neighbouring countries in the East Med, recognise Cyprus’ and other countries’ rights to their EEZs declared in accordance to UNCLOS. He explained that as UNCLOS is not legally enforceable against a state that declines to sign and ratify it, the way to resolve this may eventually be through negotiations or arbitration on the basis of internationally recognised law and not through aggressive actions as Turkey is now pursuing.



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Trump pokes fun at impeachment inquiry in annual turkey pardoning


After wishing Butter “a lot of luck,” he completed the pardon and sent both birds off to “Gobblers Rest,” an agricultural facility at Virginia Tech University. There, he predicted they “will be cared for and enjoy a terrific life,” though it’s highly unlikely either bird will live to see another Thanksgiving thanks to the breeding practices of turkey farmers.

The annual tradition began after Abraham Lincoln granted a one-time, unofficial pardon because his son had grown fond of a bird delivered to the White House. The lighthearted poultry rite continued throughout various administrations until George H.W. Bush made the turkey pardon official when he took office in 1989.

Trump has kept up the tradition, granting an official pardon last year to Peas and Carrots and the year before sparing Drumstick and Wishbone.

Trump’s pair of pardons come amid speculation about whether he will grant clemency to his longtime associate, Roger Stone, who was found guilty earlier this month on all charges for thwarting a House investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference.

Trump also stepped into controversy by granting full pardons last Friday to a pair of Army officers convicted of or charged with war crimes, while also promoting Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who was tried and acquitted for similar violations of the laws of armed conflict. Internal tension about the move set off a series of events resulting Defense Secretary Mark Esper forcing out Navy Secretary Richard Spencer.



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