Aug 15, 2020 06:21 UTC
  • Turkey urges France to refrain from escalating Mediterranean tensions

Turkey has urged France to refrain from escalating tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, following the French government’s announcement of a plan to increase military presence in the area in support of Ankara’s regional rival Greece.

“They will not get anywhere by acting like bullies, whether in Libya, the northeast of Syria, in Iraq, or the Mediterranean,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a joint news conference with his Swiss counterpart in the Swiss city of Bern on Friday.

France held training exercises with Greek forces off the island of Crete on Thursday amid rising tensions between Ankara and Athens over Turkish oil and gas exploration in disputed waters in the sea.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday that France would “temporarily reinforce” its military presence to “monitor the situation in the region and mark its determination to uphold international law,” according to his office.

Last month, the French president called for European Union (EU) sanctions against Turkey for what he described as “violations” of Greek and Cypriot sovereignty over their territorial waters.

Tensions have been escalating in the eastern Mediterranean since Monday, when Turkey announced the resumption of energy exploration research activity in a disputed area with Greece. Turkey has dispatched a research ship, the Oruc Reis, escorted by naval vessels, off the Greek island of Kastellorizo, where Turkey disputes Greek maritime rights. Ankara had paused the research activities on a request from Germany.

The Turkish vessels were being shadowed by Greek warships. And the situation has been tense.