Greece's prime minister warmly thanked France Thursday for its pledge to boost its military presence in the eastern Mediterranean, where Greek and Turkish warships are closely shadowing each other over a Turkish energy exploration bid in waters Athens claims as its own.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweeted that French President Emmanuel Macron is “a true friend of Greece and also a fervent protector of European values and international law.”
Macron announced following a phone call with Mitsotakis late Wednesday that he has decided to “temporarily reinforce the French military presence in the Eastern Mediterranean in the coming days, in cooperation with European partners including Greece.”
The mounting tension follows Turkey’s move Monday to send a seismic research vessel, escorted by warships, into waters between the Greek island of Crete and Cyprus to prospect for potential offshore gas and oil reserves, following similar discoveries in other parts of the region, The Associated Press reported.
Greece claims part of the area is over its own continental shelf and has demanded that the Turkish ships withdraw. Turkey counters that it's entitled to conduct research in the area. Greece placed its military on alert, and sent warships to the area off Turkey's southern coast.
On Thursday, President Tayyip Erdogan said that the only solution to the dispute was through dialogue and negotiation, and Ankara was not chasing any “adventures” in the region.
Erdogan said the escalation of tensions in the region was caused by Greece, and urged Athens to respect Turkey’s rights.
“The path to a solution in the eastern Mediterranean is via dialogue and negotiation. We are not chasing any unnecessary adventures or seeking tensions,” he said, Reuters reported.