On April 7, 2021, the European Union and Turkey held a meeting in Ankara at the highest level. The Turkish side was headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the EU by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel and the President of the Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen. At the end of the meeting at the Presidential Palace, the leaders moved to a living room where Erdoğan and Michel sat in two chairs flanked by the Turkish and EU flags, while Von der Leyen was left standing. After some hesitation, she sat on a side sofa, just like the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavusoglu, who took seat on a sofa on the opposite side. According to the chief of Protocol of Mr. Michel, Dominique Marro, it was thanks to Michel’s intervention that Von der Leyen was not seated on a side chair during the luncheon and was not excluded from the official photo of the meeting.
Russian military bases north of Arctic Circle and along a 20,000-kilometer coastline are of ever increasing importance, defending, controlling and denying the Northern Sea Route which is not just a “Polar Silk Road” but also a vital lane of communication to the Russian Pacific Fleet at Vladivostok. Significant investment in these strategic assets is exemplified by the bringing back into service and upgrading of facilities abandoned a quarter of a century ago on the collapse of the Soviet Union. They come within the Unified Strategic Command based in Arkhangelsk. The bases data below is derived from a number of public sources.
Arkitka is the first of a new class of Russian nuclear icebreakers. She’s designed to smash through Arctic ice up to 3 metres thick or more. But her long-delayed maiden voyage followed on a series of failed trials – and was marred by an inability to find thick enough ice to demonstrate her full potential, and equipment failures.
The Euromediterranean Conference held in Barcelona on 27/28 November 1995 adopted the so-called “Barcelona Declaration”. It was approved by the then 17 EU Member States (MS) and its 10 Mediterranean partners, including Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The Declaration was a landmark in the EU’s policy vis-á.-vis its Southern neighbors, encompassing wide economic, cultural, political and human cooperation.
The outlying regions of the Maghreb in the south, within the Sahara Desert, are part of the old commercial routes along the Sahara and constitute economic spaces with shared identities and are distant sides of national territory. Since independence, the region’s states have devoted the economic development and investment in their coastal centres, leaving vast interior regions and borderlands forgotten and marginalized.
Algeria is undergoing a transformation that might lead either to a true political transition or simply to a change of regime. Since the departure of Bouteflika, the regime’s margin to manoeuvre has increased a bit, but the people seem to believe that the president’s resignation was a way for his clan to gain time to install a successor close to it. The ruling powers are still in control and they do not want to hand over the power to the new Algerian generation until they will be satisfied with a compromise candidate. In the background the Algerian Army is protecting its unrelenting political dominance.
Taking advantage of U.S. and EU hesitation, geopolitical competitors have been filling political and security voids in the Middle East. Europeans need to become quicker in anticipating and acting on power vacuums to avoid being outpaced by global and regional disruptors such as China, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, or Turkey.