Brussels (Brussels Morning) The UK has deployed three ships, including the Royal Navy’s flagship HMS Albion, to take part in joint naval exercises off Cyprus, joining vessels from Cyprus and France, AP reported yesterday, Tuesday. British military officials noted that this affirms the UK’s post-Brexit commitment to security in Europe.
Deputy Strike Force Commander, Captain Phil Dennis, stressed that the UK is dedicated to maintaining security in Europe, in cooperation with its NATO allies and partners. Cyprus is a very important partner for the UK in the Mediterranean, Dennis noted, adding that joint exercises provide an opportunity to improve coordination and mutual understanding.
The joint exercise was set up amid growing tensions between the EU and Turkey over Ankara’s continued energy explorations in contested waters and its divisive role in Cyprus, among other issues.
Greece has called for an arms embargo against Turkey in relation to two contentious issues, while the EU is coming under increasing pressure to impose sanctions on Turkey after President Recep Erdoğan called for a boycott of French products, Bloomberg reports. Germany stands to lose the most, should an arms embargo be imposed, according to arms export records released by the European Commission this week.
Besides Greece, Cyprus and France, Erdoğan has drawn Washington’s ire having tested its Russian S-400 missile system last week despite US warnings not to. The US Department of State had warned of potential serious consequences for the Washington-Ankara security relationship if the missile system tests proceeded. Erdoğan responded by stating that the US did not know who it is playing with.
Erdoğan’s relationship with Russia has suffered also recentlyl, with Ankara and Moscow backing opposing sides in conflicts in Syria and Libya. Also, Erdoğan is backing Azerbaijan in its attempt to retake the Nagorno-Karabakh region controlled by Armenia, BBC reported yesterday,Tuesday.
Turkey’s foreign reserves have been depleted as the country has spent billions of dollars in defending the lira exchange rate. The economy is expected to contract significantly this year. The lira hit a record-low of 8.15 against the dollar, with investors anxious about the Turkish economy over international friction and the coronavirus crisis.
Analysts pointed to inflation of 11.7% in September as the latest reason behind the weakening of the lira, with an unnamed Turkish foreign exchange trader ascribing it also to the rising geopolitical tensions with the US and the EU.