The recent decision by France to bolster its naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean because of controversial Turkish oil and gas exploration in disputed waters is a reminder of how Ankara has been starting to flex its muscles outside its borders. Meanwhile Turkey has been quietly extending its economic influence in the Balkans, an area it once controlled under the Ottoman Empire but where it lost power after wars in 1912 and 1913 and then World War I. Jean-Arnault Dérens looks at Turkey's growing influence in the region a century after the end of its empire.
In World War I around 400,000 French soldiers, many of them from France's colonies, were deployed in the Balkans. As well as fighting, the troops built roads and bridges and even planted vineyards. But today few French people remember the Eastern Front, and fewer still go to visit the graves of their fellow countrymen who were killed in the fighting along the massive front line that extended over nearly 600km from Albania to Bulgaria. However, as Jean-Arnault Dérens, Laurent Geslin and Simon Rico report, Serbs, Greeks and Macedonians have never forgotten the war on their soil and its turbulent impact on their countries in the 20th century.
by Jean-Arnault Dérens, Laurent Geslin et Simon Rico