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
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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Nowruz Bayram

Nowruz Bayram

21 March is celebrated as International Nowruz Day. Nowruz marks the first day of spring and is celebrated on the day of the astronomical vernal equinox, which usually occurs on 21 March. It is celebrated as the beginning of the new year by more than 300 million people all around the world and has been marked for over 3,000 years in the Balkans, the Black Sea Basin, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East and other regions.
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Turkey hopes Black Sea gas will satisfy most of its domestic demand by 2028

Turkey hopes Black Sea gas will satisfy most of its domestic demand by 2028

Turkey hopes that newly discovered gas fields in the Black Sea will by 2028 yield output that will help it satisfy its increasing demand for gas. In 2019, Turkey’s total gas import bill was around $12 billion. The country is currently conducting further seismic analysis activities, soon to be extended  to a 10,000-square-meter area in the Black Sea
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Turkey, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan hold trilateral meeting

Turkey, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan hold trilateral meeting

The foreign ministers of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan held a trilateral meeting in Ankara on Tuesday (23 February). Hailing the results of the meeting Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said his country wants to work closely with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan as part of its "Asia Anew" initiative, which it launched in 2019 to improve ties with Asian countries
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Opinion
Opinion: US-Turkey relations are difficult but enduring

Opinion: US-Turkey relations are difficult but enduring

"The US needs Turkey to counter Russia in the Black Sea region, the Middle East, and the South Caucasus. Turkey can also be useful in the US strategy to contain China", argues Benyamin Poghosyan in this op-ed. However given the number of problems between the two countries US-Turkey relations may normalise, but they will continue to develop in the cooperation/competition framework, he argues.
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European Commission proposes new "ambitious" agenda for the Mediterranean

European Commission proposes new "ambitious" agenda for the Mediterranean

The European Commission has published its long-awaited strategy for taking forward its relationship with its southern neighbours. It proposes "a new, ambitious and innovative Agenda for the Mediterranean, drawing for the first time on the full EU toolbox and the ground-breaking opportunities of the twin green and digital transitions, in order to relaunch our cooperation and realise the untapped potential of our shared region".