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Socially acceptable again? Mohammed bin Salman in Europe

2022-07-28T13:50:18.369Z

Socially acceptable again? Mohammed bin Salman in Europe Created: 2022-07-28Updated: 2022-07-28, 3:47 p.m Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. © Dimtiris Papamitsos/Greek Prime Minister's Office/AP/dpa With a tailwind from a meeting with US President Biden, the Saudi Crown Prince flies back to Europe. In Athens, people hardly care about th



Socially acceptable again?

Mohammed bin Salman in Europe

Created: 2022-07-28Updated: 2022-07-28, 3:47 p.m

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

© Dimtiris Papamitsos/Greek Prime Minister's Office/AP/dpa

With a tailwind from a meeting with US President Biden, the Saudi Crown Prince flies back to Europe.

In Athens, people hardly care about the Khashoggi case anymore, in Paris the criticism is getting louder.

Paris/Athens/Riyadh - Somehow everything is the same again: With his first visit to Europe since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman seems to be gaining a diplomatic footing again in the West.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis gave him a "warm welcome" in Athens on Tuesday, as the Crown Prince said.

A working lunch with French President Emmanuel Macron is planned for Thursday evening in the Élysée Palace in Paris.

Almost four years after the Khashoggi murder, "MBS" is gradually becoming socially acceptable again in Europe.

End of isolation in the west

With the exception of trips to the Middle East, the crown prince had officially only traveled to the G20 summit in Japan since the murder in autumn 2018 - which the US secret services believe he approved himself.

However, the extensive isolation in the West dissolved with the visit of US President Joe Biden to the Kingdom two weeks ago.

Macron also visited the crown prince in December, and Mitsotakis traveled to the desert state on the Arabian Peninsula in 2020 and 2021.

Khashoggi was partly an issue on these trips, but only one.

The de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, also known by the acronym "MBS", denies having ordered the killing.

The crown prince has also been criticized for the devastating war in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is fighting the Houthi militias.

Oil in focus

At least since Russia's attack on Ukraine and the search for new energy suppliers, Saudi Arabia - one of the world's largest oil-producing countries - has once again become a popular partner for discussion.

Weeks ago, Macron had advocated ramping up oil production and increasing delivery volumes.

Last week he received Mohammed bin Sajid, the President of the United Arab Emirates, and put the topic of energy first.

In Greece, people hardly give a damn about possible Saudi human rights violations.

Apart from a few cartoons in Greek daily newspapers - for example Mitsotakis, who diligently sweeps the sketched remains of a corpse under the prince's ankle-length robe - there were no objections to the visit to Athens.

In fact, the atmosphere was excellent: the crown prince was taken exclusively to the Acropolis in the evening, and the next day ministers and business people from both sides signed contracts for closer cooperation.

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In view of the strong tensions with neighboring Turkey, Athens is expanding its contacts in the Middle East.

Newly announced joint projects with Riyadh include an overland and under-Mediterranean fiber optic cable designed to connect Europe and Asia.

Similarly, during the visit of US President Biden to Saudi Arabia, an expansion of 5G networks in the kingdom with the help of US companies was announced.

The Greeks are also hoping for tangible Saudi investments, for example in tourism.

criticism in France

For Macron, on the other hand, the visit is a tightrope act.

The opposition is not stingy with criticism, and human rights organizations are anything but enthusiastic about the reception of the crown prince.

According to their own statements, the organizations Trial International and Dawn filed a lawsuit in France against the crown prince in connection with the murder of Khashoggi.

Amnesty International chief Agnès Callamard wrote on Twitter: "The rehabilitation of the murderer prince will be defended in France as in the US with realpolitik arguments.

But let's not fool ourselves, in fact it is horse trading that dominates.”

The French government is aware that the prince's reception is "political and delicate for one's own reputation," said energy expert Francis Perrin from the IRIS science institute on RMC.

“But in their eyes, the interests at stake for Europe are worth it.

This country has the largest proven oil reserves after Venezuela.” In the context of the war in Ukraine, it is therefore difficult to avoid Saudi Arabia.

In 2020, Saudi Arabia was also the largest buyer of French armaments.

Perhaps also in view of the expected criticism, the meeting in Paris was accompanied by minimal public relations from the Élysée Palace.

Despite repeated requests from journalists, the confirmation only came on Wednesday afternoon, just over 24 hours before the actual meeting.

A joint press statement was not planned.

It was different in Athens: there the crown prince was in a chatty mood and told reporters: "The warm reception means a lot to me and to Saudi Arabia".

dpa

Source: merkur

All news articles on 2022-07-28

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