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.

Editor's choice
News
A new era of peace in the Eastern Mediterranean

A new era of peace in the Eastern Mediterranean

A ground breaking meeting between the President of Turkiye, Recip Tayip Erdogan, and Greek Prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, on Monday (13 May) is being hailed as the dawn of a new era of peace in the Eastern Mediterranean. Mitsotakis was in Ankara as the guest of the Turkish leader. There are no unsolvable problems between Athens and Ankara, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, as he and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis praised the state of relations between the two neighbors while pledging to further enhance bilateral ties. "We had a constructive and positive meeting and discussed problems in Türkiye-Greece relations; We will solve problems through dialogue," Erdoğan said at a joint news conference with Mitsotakis. Erdoğan said that Ankara and Athens are committed to resolving issues via "cordial dialogue, good neighborly ties, and international law" as outlined in last year's Athens Declaration on Friendly Relations and Good-Neighborliness. Improvement of bilateral relations with Türkiye is yielding concrete and positive results, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said "I can only begin by thanking you for the warm hospitality today in Ankara, it was a fourth meeting in the last 10 months, which I believe proves that the two neighbors can now establish this approach of mutual understanding, no longer as some exception, but as a productive normality that is not negated by the known differences in our positions," Mitsotakis said. He said bilateral relations have been progressing, as agreed by the parties, on three levels: political dialogue, positive agenda and confidence-building measures. "I believe that it is a positive development in a difficult time for international peace, but also for the broader stability in our region," the Greek leader said.

Filter archive

Publication date
Editor's choice
Opinion
Opinion: Sweden must re-evaluate its internal and external relations before NATO accession can become reality

Opinion: Sweden must re-evaluate its internal and external relations before NATO accession can become reality

Given the increasingly uncertain political climate in which Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson finds himself, Sweden requires an internal and external positional re-evaluation in order to finalise its accession to NATO, writes Alfred Stranne in this op-ed for commonspace.eu. Meanwhile, Sweden needs to understand the increasing anger coming from Ankara, which is severely hindering its progression towards becoming a member of the alliance. Meanwhile, Sweden must also look within NATO itself to seek support in reassuring Ankara that Sweden will be a significant security provider for the alliance, providing added benefits for Ankara as well. This would repair Sweden’s relations with Turkey and reassure Ankara that despite the ideological and religious differences between Kristersson and Erdogan, Sweden and Turkey have common interests in seeking regional peace and stability.
Editor's choice
News
Violence rocks the Holy Land

Violence rocks the Holy Land

Violence in Jerusalem, in Israel and in the Palestinian territories over the last days  has shaken the fragile peace in the Holy Land once more, despite calls for restraint by the international community. On Saturday (28 January), an assailant shot and wounded two people in east Jerusalem, Israeli medics said, hours after a Palestinian gunman killed seven outside a synagogue in one of the deadliest such attacks in years. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday that Israel's response to an attack by a Palestinian gunman attack that killed seven people on the outskirts of Jerusalem will be "strong, swift and precise" . The mass shooting unfolded as a 21-year-old resident of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem drove up to the synagogue in the Neve Yaakov neighborhood and opened fire during the Jewish Sabbath. The bloodshed, which unfolded on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marked another dramatic escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Nine people had been killed Thursday in what Israel described as a “counter-terrorism” operation in the Jenin refugee camp. It was one of the deadliest Israeli army raids in the occupied West Bank since the second intifada, or Palestinian uprising, of 2000 to 2005. Israel said Islamic Jihad operatives were the target. Islamic Jihad and Hamas both vowed to retaliate, later firing several rockets at Israeli territory. Most of the rockets were intercepted by Israeli air defenses. The military responded with strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza. There were no injuries reported on either side, but Gaza’s armed groups vowed further action. After the synagogue shooting, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said the attack proved “the resistance knows how to find the appropriate response” to Israeli “crimes.” At least 26 Israelis and 200 Palestinians were killed across Israel and the Palestinian territories in 2022, the majority in the West Bank, according to an AFP tally from official sources.
Editor's choice
News
Turkey rules out support for Sweden NATO bid after Stockholm protests

Turkey rules out support for Sweden NATO bid after Stockholm protests

The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has said that Sweden should not expect support from Ankara over its bid to join NATO following protests in Stockholm at the weekend. Surrounded by police for his protection, on Saturday (21 January) Danish-Swedish, far-right, anti-Islam activist Rasmus Paludan burned the Quran outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm while making disparaging remarks about immigrants and Islam. This incensed President Erdogan who criticised the Swedish authorities for letting the stunt happen. “It is clear that those who allowed such vileness to take place in front of our embassy can no longer expect any charity from us regarding their NATO membership application,” Erdogan said on Monday (23 January). Another bone of contention between Sweden and Turkey regarding the former's accession to NATO concerns the Kurdish question. Later on Saturday following Paludan's stunt, there was a pro-Kurdish demonstration in Stockholm where flags of various Kurdish groups were waved, including that of the Kurdish Workers' Party, or the PKK. The PKK has waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey, and although it is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, its symbols are not banned in Sweden.
Editor's choice
News
Shock after Irish peacekeeper killed in Lebanon

Shock after Irish peacekeeper killed in Lebanon

An Irish soldier was shot and killed on a UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon and a second was in a critical condition after a “hostile” crowd surrounded their armored vehicle, Ireland’s defense minister said on Thursday. Irish peacekeepers have been in Lebanon since 1978 and it is the first Irish fatality there in two decades. “We’re all very shocked and deeply saddened, it is a reminder to us of the extraordinary sacrifices that our peacekeepers make on a constant basis,” Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin told reporters in Brussels. The Irish soldiers, part of the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL), were on what Simon Coveney, who is also Ireland’s foreign minister, said was considered a standard run from UNIFIL’s area of operations in south Lebanon to Beirut when the incident happened in Al-Aqbieh late on Wednesday “The two armored vehicles effectively got separated. One of them got surrounded by a hostile mob, I think that’s the only way you could describe them, and shots were fired. Unfortunately, one of our peacekeepers was killed,” Coveney told Irish national broadcaster RTE.
Editor's choice
News
Türkiye warned Greece to stop militarizing the Aegean islands

Türkiye warned Greece to stop militarizing the Aegean islands

Türkiye's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has warned Greece on Tuesday (6 December) to stop militarizing the Aegean islands, or Ankara “will take the necessary steps on the ground.” He said Türkiye had sent a letter to the United Nations in July 2021 laying out its arguments against Athens, which he said had violated the agreements of Lausanne and Paris. Greece denied these accusations, saying it has not provoked its neighbour nor amassed a large landing fleet on its shores.
Editor's choice
News
MPs again fail to elect next president of Lebanon

MPs again fail to elect next president of Lebanon

MPs in Lebanon failed again to elect a new president on Thursday for an eighth time, despite the deepening impact of the political deadlock on the country’s economic woes. Lebanon has been without a head of state for a month after president Michel Aoun left office at the end of October with no successor. Parliament is split between supporters of the powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah movement and its opponents, neither of whom have a clear majority. Lawmaker Michel Moawad, who is seen as close to the United States, won the support of 37 lawmakers Thursday — well short of the required majority — while 52 spoilt ballots were cast, mainly by pro-Hezbollah lawmakers. Only 111 of parliament’s 128 lawmakers showed up for the vote. By convention, Lebanon’s presidency goes to a Maronite Christian, the premiership is reserved for a Sunni Muslim and the post of parliament speaker goes to a Shiite Muslim. Parliament is expected to convene for a new attempt to elect a president on December 8.
Editor's choice
News
Lebanon is still without a president

Lebanon is still without a president

Lebanese MPs failed for a sixth time on Thursday to elect a president to fill the vacancy left by Michel Aoun whose term expired last month. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri announced that a seventh vote would be held next Thursday. A total of 112 MPs cast ballots on Thursday, from a total of 128. Independent MP Michel Mouawad received 43  votes and academic Issam Khalifeh received seven. One vote was cast for former MP and presidential candidate Sleiman Frangieh.  Ziad Baroud, a former minister, received three. MP Michel Daher, a non-Maronite who did not submit his candidacy, received one vote, and two ballots were canceled. However, 46 blank votes were cast by Hezbollah. Parliament is split between supporters of Hezbollah and its opponents.