Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday called on Greece and Turkey to dialogue in order to ease tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, where he announced a strengthening of the French military presence. During a telephone call with the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the French Head of State once again expressed “his concern about the tensions caused by Turkey’s unilateral decisions on oil exploration, which must cease to allow a peaceful dialogue between neighboring countries and allies within NATO ”.
The president said on twitter that the increase in military presence would be done in cooperation with European partners, including Greece:
The situation in the eastern Mediterranean is worrying. Turkey’s unilateral decisions on oil exploration are causing tensions. These must end in order to allow a peaceful dialogue between neighboring countries and allies within NATO. I have decided to temporarily strengthen the French military presence in the Eastern Mediterranean in the coming days, in cooperation with European partners including Greece.
The discovery of vast amounts of natural resources in the region in recent years has sparked a prospecting scramble by Greece, Turkey and Egypt as well as Cyprus and Israel. The European Union foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, qualified the movements of the Turkish navy in the Eastern Mediterranean as “extremely worrying”. The situation deteriorated on Monday 10 August after Turkey deployed a seismic research vessel, the Oruç Reis, escorted by military vessels, in the southeastern Aegean Sea, a disputed area of the Mediterranean rich in gas fields.
The Hellenic navy is also present in the area to “monitor” Turkish activities, according to Athens. Mr. Mitsotakis assured Wednesday that Greece would not seek to aggravate the tension, while warning “that no provocation would remain unanswered”. Local media reported that an Hellenic Navy and Turkish frigate had collided.
Regarding the French military presence, it is not clear yet which units will be deployed. Two French Air Force Rafale fighters were briefly deployed to Cyprus earlier this week.
In addition, a French Navy La Fayette-class frigate is also in the area:
A French ministry of armed forces statement issued just now mentions the following details:
In the immediate future, in terms of air force, this temporary reinforcement will first be based on a stop in Souda, in Crete, on Thursday August 13, of two Rafales previously deployed to Cyprus from August 10 to 12 for an exercise.
On the naval level, the Tonnerre amphibious helicopter carrier (LHD), on its way to provide assistance to the Lebanese people, was joined last night by the frigate La Fayette, which set sail from Larnaca and carried out an exercise at sea with the Greek navy .
The purpose of this military presence is to strengthen the autonomous assessment of the situation and to affirm France’s attachment to free movement, to the safety of maritime navigation in the Mediterranean and to respect for international law.
Greece conducts combined military exercises with France in the Mediterranean (click link to learn more)