Turkey is constantly declaring moves by its regional rivals “null and void” as it finds itself increasingly isolated amid two very important developments in recent weeks.
Firstly, Greece and Egypt inked a maritime borders agreement in early August delimiting an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) between the two countries, in response to a Turkey-Libya agreement on maritime boundaries in November 2019.
Secondly, last week the United Arab Emirates (UAE) became the third Arab country to establish full relations with Israel, after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.
Both developments were declared “null and void” by Turkey without proper justification.
“A maritime boundary between Greece and Egypt does not exist. With respect to Turkey, the so-called maritime delimitation agreement signed today is null and void. This understanding will reflect on the ground and at the table,” Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Aug. 6.
Turkey’s declaration of Greek-Egyptian maritime deal as baseless does not count for much in the international arena. The statement’s target was the Turkish public. The government is trying to give the message that no deal in the region would work without Turkey’s permission.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun’s statement on the U.S.-brokered deal between the UAE and Israel described it as a dangerous move for peace and prosperity in the region and said, “Israel-UAE deal is null and void for Turkey”.
It should not be forgotten that Altun is a high-ranking official of a country which was the first Muslim-majority state to officially recognise Israel’s existence. And during the Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s 18-year rule, Turkey-Israel trade volume almost tripled.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan frequently uses the expression. He has declared, in different speeches, the European Parliament’s decision on the suspension of Turkey-European Union accession talks, the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Iraqi Kurdistan’s referendum on independence, and France’s decision to recognise the Armenian genocide as all being “null and void for Turkey”.
He has also used the phrase to target the Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP)’s leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. At a rally dated April 9, 2016, Erdoğan said, “The chair of the main opposition party is now empty for us. I speak as citizen Erdoğan. For us, this person is considered null. He is a political pervert.”
Devlet Bahçeli, leader of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and an ally of Erdoğan, has also echoed the “null and void” terminology.
“The condemnation of changing the status of Hagia Sophia at the EU Foreign Ministers Meeting held in Brussels is a cheap challenge, a verdict null and void for Turkey,” Bahçeli said in a speech on July 14.
Bahçeli also said “the deal between Greece and Egypt signed an immoral agreement that is null and void for Turkey”.
Meanwhile, even the Turkish opposition has also employed the same terminology.
Kılıçdaroğlu said in a statement on the ruling issued by the Supreme Election Board (YSK) regarding the annulment of the local elections in Istanbul in 2019 that the “YSK has rendered itself as null with that decision”.
But do Turkey’s declarations actually render any deals or decisions “null and void”? No.