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France to increase Mediterranean presence amid Turkey row

August 13, 2020

French President Macron said he will increase military presence in the Mediterranean over "unilateral" gas explorations by Turkey. He called on Ankara to cease the explorations in order to allow a "peaceful dialogue."

Emmanuel Macron
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/AP/D. Cole

France will boost its military presence in the eastern Mediterranean, French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Wednesday.

Macron asked Turkey to cease oil and gas exploration in contested waters that has spurred tensions with Greece. 

A statement by Macron's office said that France will "temporarily reinforce" the presence of its military to "monitor the situation in the region and mark its determination to uphold international law." 

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis thanked Macron on Thursday for France's pledge to increase its military presence.

Mitsotakis tweeted that Macron is a "true friend of Greece and also a fervent protector of European values and international law."

In a call late Wednesday with Mitsotakis, Macron had raised concern over  "unilateral" exploration by Turkey, adding that they should "cease in order to allow a peaceful dialogue" between Turkey and Greece.  

Read moreGreece accuses Turkey of 'threatening peace' in the Mediterranean

Tensions have been high between the two neighboring NATO members over claims to natural gas reserves. 

Dubbed the Cyprus gas dispute, it was brought to the fore when EU member Cyprus made attempts to explore for gas in the eastern Mediterranean despite strong objections from Turkey. 

In July,  Macron had pushed for EU sanctions against Ankara for what he called "violations" of Greek and Cypriot sovereignty over their territorial waters.  

Relations between France and Turkey have also been strained by the Libyan conflict. 

Read moreEurope warns Turkey against natural gas mission near Greece

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