Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for June 20, 2022

Newsline: Turkey, Greece struggle to resolve diplomatic dispute over Aegean islands

The Eastern Mediterranean and the islands of the Aegean, where Greek and Turkish claims overlap, are once again in the focus amid the latest dispute between Greece and Turkey. The complexity of the issue under international law is now further exacerbated by a lack of diplomacy. The two NATO allies are still in a dispute over islands in the Aegean Sea. In particular, Turkey rejects what it calls a “militarisation” of some islands by Greece. The legal bases are found in the treaties of Lausanne (1923), Montreux (1936) and Paris (1947), whereby the treaties signed in Lausanne and Paris regulate which island belongs to which country. However, the treaty of Montreux was intended to replace the treaty of Lausanne partially, and Turkey has essentially been deriving its claims from the latter. Two years ago, the sides came to the brink of military conflict as tensions rose over energy resources in the eastern Meditarennean. Since then, even diplomatic rapprochement seemed conceivable. However, Ankara’s rhetoric changed drastically after Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited the United States last month and called on Washington to reconsider arms sales to Turkey. An affront, in Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s view. The Turkish leader announced he would not meet again the Greek side until an “honest politician” was in front of him. Since then, the dispute has spiralled, including a large-scale Turkish military manoeuvre, which Erdogan attended. In fact, his appearance made global headlines when he indirectly threatened war. Given this apparent conundrum, the EU called upon Turkey to behave “constructively”. “Escalating steps and rhetoric” must be avoided and replaced with “good neighbourly relations”, Brussels urged. (https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2022/6/20/why-turkey-greece-remain-on-collision-course-over-aegean-islands) NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg encouraged Greece and Turkey to settle their differences and avoid any action or rhetoric that could escalate the situation.

Newsline: EU top diplomat says Colombia’s election outcome is vote for political change

The European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said on Monday that Colombians had voted for a more equal society by choosing leftist Gustavo Petro as their next president. “The elections in Colombia mark a clear change, Colombians have been voting for political change, looking for a more inclusive and more egalitarian society … I wish the best for the Colombian president-elect,” Borrell told reporters on arrival to an EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/colombias-election-outcome-vote-political-065209363.html) Borrell also said an EU monitoring mission found the elections to be free and fair.

Newsline: Iran says ‘too early’ to talk of Tehran, Riyadh reopening embassies

It would be premature to speak of Iran and Saudi Arabia reopening embassies in each other’s capitals, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson said on Monday, after five rounds of talks since last year between the rivals on improving ties. “It is too early to talk about the reopening of embassies by Tehran and Riyadh,” the spokesperson, Saeed Khatibzadeh, told a televised news conference when asked whether the travel of Iranian Haj pilgrims to Saudi Arabia could signal a restoration of diplomatic relations. (https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/iran-says-too-early-talk-tehran-riyadh-reopening-embassies-2022-06-20/) Predominantly Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran, which are locked in proxy conflicts across the Middle East, started direct talks last year to try to contain tensions. In April, the two held the fifth round of their negotiations in Iraq. Riyadh severed ties with Tehran in 2016 after Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in the Iranian capital following the execution of a Shi’ite cleric in Saudi Arabia.