France will increase its military presence in the eastern Mediterranean, President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday, calling on Turkey to halt oil and gas exploration in disputed waters that has heightened tensions with Greece.
The French leader voiced concern over “unilateral” exploration by Turkey in a call with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Macron’s office said in a statement. It added that prospecting should “cease in order to allow a peaceful dialogue” between the neighbouring NATO members.
“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,” Macron said on Twitter late on Wednesday. France will “temporarily reinforce” its military presence, Macron’s statement said, to “monitor the situation in the region and mark its determination to uphold international law.”
The French President posted his tweets also in Greek!
Short time later, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis thanked him, tweeting “I thank President Macron for his solidarity. @EmmanuelMacron is a true friend of Greece but also a fervent defender of European values and international law.”
Je remercie Président Macron pour son solidarité. @EmmanuelMacron est un vrai ami de la Grèce mais aussi un fervent défenseur des valeurs européennes et du droit international.
— Prime Minister GR (@PrimeministerGR) August 12, 2020
The standoff deepened this week with the arrival of Turkish seismic research vessel Oruc Reis in a disputed area of the Mediterranean, accompanied by warships.
Turkey and Greece are at loggerheads over competing claims to natural gas reserves, brought into sharp focus by the attempts of EU member Cyprus to explore for gas in the eastern Mediterranean over Turkey’s strong objections.
Since Monday, Ankara has sent seismic survey vessel Oruc Reis in the Greek continental shelf accompanied by warships.
Macron called last month for EU sanctions against Turkey for what he described as “violations” of Greek and Cypriot sovereignty over their territorial waters. Relations between Paris and Ankara have also frayed over the conflict in Libya.
Thousands of Greeks welcome Macron’s action and hailed him as a “true leader.”
with reuters, Twitter.