Region

Turkey and the Levant

Stories under this heading cover Turkey as well as the Levant – a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia, consisting of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Palestine.

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Opinion: Israel and Lebanon move towards resolving a long standing dispute on their maritime border

Opinion: Israel and Lebanon move towards resolving a long standing dispute on their maritime border

There are reports that the US may be about to broker a deal between Israel and Lebanon, resolving a long-standing dispute about their maritime border and the exploitation of two large oil and gas fields in the Levantine Basin. Amos Hochstein, the US Senior Advisor for Energy Security, this month mediated indirect talks between the two countries, who technically are still at war with each other, and have no formal diplomatic relations in an attempt to resolve the issue. After his meetings in Lebanon last week, it seemed that a breakthrough had finally been reached, when the Lebanese president, Michel Aoun, reportedly presented a unified position on behalf of the government, which offered the prospect for a compromise This new proposal would create an S shaped maritime border, granting Lebanon access to the whole of the Qana field, while leaving Israel the entirety of Karish. In the past, the lack of agreement within the Lebanese government, and its unwillingness to compromise had been the key factors holding back negotiations, and this new approach led Hochstein to strike an optimistic note, saying that Lebanon had taken “a very strong step forward”. The US Energy advisor will now relay the offer to Israel and await a response. Both countries stand to gain from a swift and peaceful resolution to this decade long problem which has prevented them from extracting any value out of the fields. 
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The great Saudi-Turkish restart

The great Saudi-Turkish restart

After years of dispute during which relations fell to a historical low, Turkey and Saudi Arabia on Wednesday sealed a restart in their relations during a state visit to Turkey by the Kingdom's Crown Prince, Mohamed bin Salman. The turquoise carpet was laid out at the presidential palace in Ankara as the Crown prince arrived to be greeted by Turkey's president, Recip Tayip Erdogan. The two men held discussions on bilateral relations and regional and international issues. But this visit was mainly about symbolism. The substance had already been sorted over weeks and months of discussions involving senior officials from the two countries. President Erdogan was himself in Saudi Arabia only a month ago. But the visit of Mohammad bin Salman to Ankara had huge symbolic significance and it marked the final act in a process that saw the two countries draw back from years of animosity, rooted mainly in different perspectives on the future of the Middle East and the broader Islamic world. Both countries see themselves as leaders in the region, as well as a beacon for Muslims worldwide. Prior to visiting Turkey, the Saudi Crown Prince also visited Egypt and Jordan. In a few weeks time he will welcome in Riyadh US President Joe Biden, in a final act that will see the complete rehabilitation of the heir to the Saudi throne who had been caught in international controversy.

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Putin and Erdogan met in Sochi to consolidate Russia-Turkey relations

Putin and Erdogan met in Sochi to consolidate Russia-Turkey relations

Russian president Vladimir Putin hosted Turkish president Recip Tayip Erdogan in the Russian Black Sea city of Sochi on Wednesday (29 September) with both sides keen to consolidate Turkish-Russian relations despite a number of serious differences, especially on Syria. This face-to-face meeting was the first for the two presidents in the past year-and-a-half. Their previous meeting was in March 2020, at the Kremlin.
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Lebanon's cabinet gets Parliamentary approval

Lebanon's cabinet gets Parliamentary approval

After a long session that lasted eight hours on Monday (20 September), the Lebanese parliament gave a vote of confidence to the new Lebanese cabinet led by prime minister Najib Mikati. The session, in which 100 out of 128 members attended, was long and tiring for many yet nothing dramatic disturbed the proceedings. 
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Turkey and EU discuss climate change at "excellent" first high level dialogue

Turkey and EU discuss climate change at "excellent" first high level dialogue

The European Union and Turkey on Thursday (16 September), held their first high level dialogue on climate change. The delegations were led by the European Commission’s executive vice president for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, and Turkish minister of environment and urbanization,  Murut Kurum. They discussed the necessary steps to fight the devastating effects of climate change and to significantly cut emissions by 2050.
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Lebanon finally has a government!

Lebanon finally has a government!

After more than a year of political mistrust and local instability, Lebanon finally has a government with Najib Mikati, a billionaire telecommunications tycoon, as the prime minister. The cabinet was announced by the Lebanese presidency on Twitter after the Friday prayer local time in Beirut. He added that Mikati agreed to make the government official by signing a decree in the presence of the parliament speaker, Nabih Berri at the Baabda presidential palace. 
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More signs of a thaw in Armenian-Turkish relations

More signs of a thaw in Armenian-Turkish relations

At a government meeting in Yerevan on Wednesday, 8 September, Armenian  Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan touched upon the issue of normalising relations with Turkey. He referred to comments made recently by Turkish president Recip Tayip Erdogan and said that his government was ready for discussions with the Turkish side.
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Opinion
Opinion: Armenia and Turkey again try to normalise relations, and this time it may work

Opinion: Armenia and Turkey again try to normalise relations, and this time it may work

"It is likely that Armenia and Turkey are close to making an official announcement about the launch of a new normalisation process. It may result in establishing diplomatic relations, and in Turkey deciding to open its border with Armenia", says Benyamin Poghosyan in this op-ed.