German frigate Hamburg, located off the coast of Libya, raided Turkish-flagged commercial vessel Roseline A and detained it for hours. As tension is high in the region, will Turkey retaliate immediately?
Turkey strongly reacted, summoned EU, Germany and Italy envoys to protest “unauthorised action, carried out using force” in international waters. Turkey Ministry of Defence announced it “keeps the right of retaliation”. Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, also, said that “a response will be given on legal basis and in the field”.
First of all, why did Germany make such an action? It is irrational that the navy of a country like Germany, which is known for its discipline, does not know the international law and the maritime law. So it is clear that the act is designed deliberately and purposefully.
The first thing that comes to mind is the EU leaders summit at 10 December. There are comments that some hard steps will be taken against Turkey at that summit, reffering to the sanctions. Even High Representative of the European Union Josep Borrel warned Turkey that time is running out for Turkey, pointed to the summit. Germany holds rotating presidency of the Union and may wants to host summit by stronger arguments against Turkey.
The other issue is that action may have been realized by the reckless desire and pressure of some European countries like “spoiled kid of Europe, Greece”, who have been encouraged by Joe Biden’s winning elections in the USA. The fact that German frigate Hamburg, was commanded by a Greek officer during the raid, gone public.
Regarding the first issue, it is difficult for EU leaders to take hard decisions and impose tough sanctions against Turkey. The agenda of EU summit on October this year was ended with no decisions taken against Ankara.
There are factors that hinder EU from imposing sanctions against Turkey. If we are to sort them under four headings;
- There are many European companies operational in Turkey
- Europe needs Turkey in order to diversify its energy dependence. Turkey, geographically located right between Europe and the energy source contries.
- Turkey is intermediate country for “One Belt One Road” Project, which makes the country indispensable for both Europe and China.
- Tayyip Erdogan may give way to millions of refugees, the biggest nightmare of European leaders.
Political, economic, security, demographic, geographical etc. many other topics can be added here. Therefore, at the summit in December, sanctions that can have profound effect on Turkey, will not be imposed. Most importantly, Turkey is no more obedient to EU leaders, because this is not the old Turkey. If any decision taken, Ankara will retaliate.
As for Biden’s election; it is known that the new President will want to act in partnership with the European Union as a block and continue on the path by strengthening institutions such as the UN and NATO. But Biden will be busy with his country’s domestic affairs until the end of next year. He will grapple with many problems such as pandemic, riot in American streets, the lawsuits those which Trump will bring to the Supreme Court, the Senate dominated by Republicans etc.
Turkey probably preparing initiative on legal basis. At the same time, Turkey will raid a German or Greece flagged vessel, in Mediterranean Sea, in Black Sea or any sea around the World, where there is a Turkish navy element is located.