Thursday, August 13, 2020

Greek-turkish conflict: France sends battleships and fighter aircrafts to back Greece

 French newspaper "Le Monde" writes:

"France has temporarily deployed two Rafale fighters and two naval vessels in the eastern Mediterranean amid tensions between Greece and Turkey over gas exploitation, the French Ministry of the Armed Forces announced Thursday (August 13th). 
On Tuesday, Ankara said it had sent a ship the day before to search for hydrocarbons in an area two-thirds of the Greek maritime zone, contested for decades by Turkey. Greece immediately reacted by sending a boat to "monitor" Turkish activities, according to Athens, warning through the voice of its prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, "that no provocation would go unanswered". 


Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday evening announced the temporary strengthening of the French military presence in the area and called on Greece and Turkey, both members of NATO, to coordinate more to ease tensions. On July 23, the head of state sharply criticized Turkey's "violations" of Greek and Cypriot sovereignty over the exploration of gas resources at sea. 
"The French military presence aims 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 the law. international, ”said the Ministry of the Armed Forces. 
The two Rafales will make a "stopover" Thursday in Souda, Crete, and will stay there "a few days", the ministry said. They had previously been deployed to Cyprus from Monday to Wednesday for an exercise. The Tonnerre helicopter carrier, which is on its way to Beirut to provide aid after the deadly explosion of August 4, was also joined overnight from Wednesday to Thursday in the Mediterranean by the frigate La Fayette, which had sailed from Larnaca (Cyprus) and carried out an exercise with the Greek Navy. 
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday morning said in a speech to his party officials that he would meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council President Charles Michel during the day. 
"The solution in the Eastern Mediterranean is through dialogue and negotiations," said the Turkish president, adding, however, that Ankara "would not let any country infringe on its rights." 
Athens accuses Ankara of violating its territory by carrying out energy research in the south of the Greek island of Kastellorizo ​​(Meis, in Turkish), but Turkey refuses to admit that this small territory located near its coasts limits its field of action . "Claiming maritime sovereignty using Meis Island, two kilometers from the Turkish coast and 580 kilometers from mainland Greece, cannot be rationally explained," Erdogan told officials in his party. 
The discovery in recent years of vast gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean has whetted the appetite of the riparian countries and heightened tensions between Turkey and Greece, Ankara particularly wishing to impose itself in the rush for hydrocarbons and assert itself as the leading power. in the eastern Mediterranean. 
"Greece and Turkey have always had complicated neighborly relations, but since the failed coup against Erdogan in 2016, the situation has deteriorated markedly," Panagiotis Tsakonas, professor of international relations at the University of Athens. Faced with a severe economic crisis in his country, the Turkish president is trying to shine on the international scene and extend his influence beyond Turkish borders, into Syria, Libya and the Mediterranean. 
Another sign of this desire to conquer: in November 2019, Turkey signed an agreement with the Libyan National Accord Government (GAN) which delimits bilateral maritime borders by encroaching on exclusive Greek and Cypriot areas."

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