France is boosting its military presence in the Eastern Mediterranean to reinforce Cypriot and Greek claims in the area and protect the activities of its energy giant Total.
The helicopter carrier Tonnerre, which is taking aid to Lebanon following the fertilizer explosion in Beirut, and the frigate La Fayette, which is training with the Greek navy, will remain in the area.
Two French Rafale warplanes will be based in Crete.
The deployments come after the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier patrolled the region earlier this year, and in response to the appearance of Turkish drill ships and frigates in disputed waters.
First tiny Wallonia threatened to derail the EU’s free-trade agreement with Canada. Now Cyprus, with a population of 1.2 million, is putting at risk a treaty that covers nearly 500 million consumers and 28 percent of the world’s economy.
Cypriot lawmakers voted 37 to eighteen against the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which eliminates nearly all tariffs between Canada and the EU and includes mutual recognition of professional qualifications and product standards.
Located between Europe and the Middle East, Cyprus has historically been of strategic significance to powers on either side of the Mediterranean Sea. The discovery of natural gas off its shores has raised the island’s geopolitical profile — and might help it overcome communal tensions.
Cypriot waters are estimated to contain between 140 and 220 billion cubic meters of gas with an approximate value of €38 billion.
As Donald Trump returns from his first international tour as American president, one thing that stands out is, as usual, the difference between his and Barack Obama’s approach to diplomacy. Whereas Obama’s first Mideast destinations were Turkey and Iraq, Trump’s were Saudi Arabia and Israel, a country Obama did not even visit until his second term in office.
Trump’s trip also included stops in Brussels, Sicily and the Vatican in Rome. Along with Saudi Arabia and Israel, these represent four of the five most significant allies of the United States within the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean region: Italy, Israel, the Saudis and the EU.
The fifth ally, which appears to have been snubbed, is Turkey. The Turks were not honored with a stop during Trump’s first trip to the region, as they were during Obama’s.
Turkey failing to make it onto Trump’s travel itinerary might seem to be of little significance, if it were not for the flurry of unpleasant events involving the Turks and Americans that have occured this same month. Read more “Trump and the Turks”
In 1974, Turkish forces invaded Cyprus, splitting the island into a Turkish north and a Greek Cypriot south. Now, for the first time in decades, unification seems at hand. Once the sorest point for the NATO alliance, the Cyprus dispute may soon be consigned to the dustbin of history.
What’s happened here? Why has everyone suddenly started acting so reasonable?
Russia signed an agreement with Cyprus on Wednesday that allows its navy ships regular access to the Mediterranean island nation’s ports.
Both countries downplayed the pact’s significance. Russian president Vladimir Putin told reporters in Moscow the ships that dock at Cyprus would likely be involved in international anti-piracy operations.
Recent negotiations over Cyprus’ bailout plan tested the hard wrought stability of a union which seemed finally to have solved a few of its core problems.
Few imagined that the Mediterranean country’s financial problems, well known in advance, could rattle the European Union anew. Yet an economy approximately one tenth the size of Greece’s, where the estimated sum of a bailout package would reach a maximum of €18 billion, in relative terms a paltry sum, raised more existential problems for the euro. Read more “Cyprus: A Small Country Raises Big Questions”
After the European Union agreed to a financial rescue of Cyprus on Monday, the Netherlands’ Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chairs the group of eurozone finance ministers, announced, “We put an end to the uncertainty for Cyprus and the eurozone.”