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Ankara accuses Paris of reigniting the conflict after joining joint exercises with Greece, Italy and Cyprus after Erdogan kept up gas exploration.
Turkey on Thursday accused France of stoking tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, where NATO allies Turkey and Greece are locked in a bitter confrontation over claims for offshore energy exploration rights.
The accusation comes after European Union foreign ministers met in Berlin to try to persuade EU member Greece and neighboring Turkey to walk away from the conflict.
The ministers were expected to debate a series of sanctions and other policy options that could convince Turkey to moderate its insistence on drilling for energy reserves in the disputed waters of the eastern Mediterranean.
Germany has promised to act as a bridge between Athens and Ankara to defuse tensions, while on Wednesday US President Donald Trump held phone calls with the leaders of Greece and Turkey.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also said he was in “constant contact” with Greece and Turkey. “My message is that the situation must be resolved in a spirit of allied solidarity and in accordance with international law,” Stoltenberg said when meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. “Dialogue and de-escalation are of interest to everyone . “
In Ankara, Defense Minister Hulusi Akara criticized France for joining Italy, Greece and Cyprus in three-day air and maritime military exercises off the eastern Mediterranean island, saying Turkey will not be deterred by the show of force.
“To believe that it would be possible to thwart the operations of the Turkish Armed Forces with exercises and similar activities is nothing more than a pipe dream,” Akar said in an interview with the state agency Anadolu. Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy accused France of deploying fighter jets on the ethnically divided island of Cyprus under the “pretext” of conducting military exercises. The deployment, in his opinion, is against the treaties reached in 1960.
“France, which is not a guarantor of the island of Cyprus, with this attitude dangerously encourages the Greek Cypriot and Greek duo, who are responsible for the current tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, to further escalate the tension,” Aksoy said in a statement.
France and Greece will deploy fighter jets and navy ships as part of military drills , while Cyprus will activate its air defense system to test its capabilities, the Cyprus Defense Ministry reported on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Turkey issued an advisory , known as Navtex , stating that it would conduct military exercises with live fire on September 1 and 2 off the southern coast of the Mediterranean, that is, off Cyprus .
The Turkish ship Oruc Reis has been conducting seismic investigations for weeks , escorted by Turkish warships. Athens , which says the ship is operating over the Greek continental shelf in an area where it has exclusive rights to potential undersea oil and gas deposits , sent warships to observe and track the Turkish flotilla.
Turkey questions Greece’s claims and insists that small Greek islands off the Turkish coast should not be taken into account when delimiting maritime borders.
Ankara accuses Athens of trying to appropriate an unfair part of the resources of the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey and Greece have vowed to defend their claims to their sovereignty over the eastern Mediterranean.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised on Wednesday that his country “will never compromise what belongs to us. We are determined to do whatever is necessary in political, economic and military terms. “
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that Greece plans to exercise its legal right to extend its territorial waters along its western coast, which faces Italy, from six to 12 nautical miles. The planned extension would not affect the territory at the center of the Greco-Turkish dispute.
Turkey has warned in the past that a stretch of Greek waters 12 nautical miles into the Aegean Sea, off the Turkish coastline, would be seen as a reason to declare war on Greece.
Source: La Razon