Greece and Turkey have long been at odds with one another. The two nations created their national identities and fought their independence wars against one another. With each passing day, historical hostilities have simply grown more intense. Through education, history, and literary works, the stereotypes of the enemy have been reinforced over time in both countries. The recent incident of Greece -Turkey rivalry is playing out openly in Libya and has even European powers embroiled in it.
According to recent reports, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias snubbed his Libyan counterpart, abandoning a planned visit to Tripoli to avoid being welcomed by the top diplomat of a government allied with arch rival Turkey.
Dendias’s visit to the politically divided North African nation comes after Libya’s Tripoli-based government signed a memorandum of understanding with Ankara over exploration for Mediterranean oil and gas that is bitterly contested by Athens.
Built on a 2019 border deal between Tripoli and Ankara, the energy exploration agreement signed last month angered Greece, Egypt and Cyprus which argue that neither side has a right to drill in those areas.
What was unusual was that Dendias not only refused to get off his plane, but instead continued on to Benghazi, where a rival government is in power.
You see, since the Arab Spring movement, which was supported by NATO, destroyed Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011, Libya has been devastated by war. For many years, the nation has been divided between opposing eastern and western regimes, each of which is backed by militias and international powers.
The Libya National Army (LNA), which has its headquarters in Benghazi and a force of about 25,000 troops, is commanded by Khalifa Haftar, a former commander who assisted Muammar Gaddafi in assuming power in 1969. Therefore, the Greek foreign minister’s trip to Benghazi represents a sharp deviation from NATO’s foreign policy goals.
Read More: America’s 11 years long planning in Libya is about to be blown up
An instance of European proxy power?
Never underestimate how difficult it would have been for Greece to publicly reject NATO’s foreign policy goals. For Greece to make such a smart gamble, it would have required the support of another major power. Well, if you are a foreign policy enthusiast, you would have already guessed that this represents yet another significant instance of a Franco-German proxy power tussle being played against each other through Greece and Turkey, respectively, in Libya.
You see, French President Emmanuel Macron is emerging as a more important global leader in his second term. Macron’s new prominence stems not only from the European Union’s weight, particularly in economic matters, but also from the unique role France sees for itself: as a major power allied with – but epistemologically independent of – the United States.
This positioning has caused problems for many countries, particularly Germany, which has its own squabbles with France.
France has undoubtedly allied with Greece in this proxy conflict in Libya. With the recently concluded Rafale pact between Paris and Athens, Athens has already received subliminal military backing from Paris. Additionally, as expected, Germany has aligned itself with Ankara and the larger NATO strategy. Germany was largely responsible for preventing the EU from imposing sensitive sanctions on Turkey in response to its expansive strategy in the eastern Mediterranean and accompanying military threats against EU members Greece and the Republic of Cyprus.
Overall, France has given its implicit support to the latest Greece bet that took place in Libya. It will be interesting to observe how events develop in Tripoli for the United States and its NATO allies now that two of its key partners, France and Greece, have begun to declare their allegiance to the rebel Libyan government administered by Khalifa Haftar.
Leave a Reply