An Ankara-based think tank Thursday held a panel on the growing tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean region and Libya, where the U.N.-recognized government is combatting the forces of putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar.
The Center for Middle Eastern Studies (ORSAM)'s panel, titled "The Eastern Mediterranean Conflict and the Libyan Crisis," was held with the participation of national and international experts and was broadcasted live by Al Jazeera's Mubasher channel.
Nebahat Tanrıverdi Yaşar, a researcher, said the EU and U.N. were mostly concerned about the refugee crisis in 2014 and therefore, their main motivation then was based on a short-term goal, meaning that they only sought to delay ground clashes between adversaries.
Yaşar's remarks came ahead of the Berlin conference on Libya slated for Sunday. Following a call by Turkish and Russian presidents, Libya's warring sides recently gathered in Moscow. However, talks on a permanent cease-fire failed after Haftar left the Russian capital without signing the agreement.
"At least one of the conflicting parties in Libya seeks to resolve (the dispute) through military means; it views war as a solution instrument," she said, referring to the U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord's (GNA) rival Haftar.
She went on to say that Haftar's return from Moscow without a concrete cease-fire agreement was strong evidence of his war-based views.
Nizar Krikish, director for al-Bayan Center Studies, said Egypt’s Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has repeatedly said Cairo was not involved in the Libya crisis, but that was not true as the realities on the ground contradict his claims.
Krikish added that Libya witnessed Egypt's interference for years and the lack of support to the GNA was a war crime committed by the Egyptian administration.
He went on to note that the GNA was abandoned by regional countries until Turkey appeared on the stage.
"The agreement struck by Turkey and the GNA is pretty important with regard to Libya's rebuilding," he said, noting that there would be less foreign interference in Libya's internal policies as the country grows stronger.
Essam Abdelshafi, a member of the Egyptian Studies Institute, said the revolution and counter-revolution incidents across the Middle East in recent years have paved the way for instability and many regional countries now suffer from political turmoil.
Referring to the Libyan crisis, which emerged following the toppling of then-leader Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, he said there were now many regional and international actors involved such as Egypt, Algeria, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Italy and France.
Abdelshafi said the UAE and Saudi Arabia operated as locomotives encouraging Egypt's involvement in the Libya crisis and that they were responsible for cyber and military operations in a bid to gain control in the crisis.
"Turkey needs to be careful and calculate everything in detail," he said.
Recep Yorulmaz, director of Economic Studies at ORSAM, said Turkey considered natural resources in the disputed Eastern Mediterranean region a vital element as the country's main current deficit was a result of dependency on foreign energy resources.
"As a country with the longest shoreline (along the Eastern Mediterranean), Turkey has started to defend its rights arising from international agreements," Yorulmaz said.
"The main purpose of Turkey's regional policy is to protect the rights of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC)," he said, referring to the crisis with the Greek Cypriots in the area around the island of Cyprus.
"Any plan excluding Turkey, including the EastMed (pipeline project led by Israel), will not be effective both in terms of cost and political fields," he said, adding that regional countries would eventually find common ground with Turkey.
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