Franco-Greek military exercises in the eastern Mediterranean on August 13, 2020. - / AP / SIPA

Ankara "threatens peace" in the eastern Mediterranean. Athens does not mince its words and let it be known at the start of the week that it "will defend its sovereignty and its sovereign rights". A serious warning as Turkey is once again deploying prospecting vessels, including the seismic research vessel Oruç Reis , to search for hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkish ships do not hesitate to explore Cypriot and Greek territorial waters, reviving tensions between the two countries.

The Greeks want an emergency EU summit on Turkey. The head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell has already denounced Sunday the movements "extremely worrying" of the Turkish navy in the Mediterranean. For his part, Emmanuel Macron, whose relations with Recep Tayyip Erdogan are difficult, announced a strengthening of the French military presence in the sector by deploying two Rafale fighters and two warships.

Since then, the tone has been mounting between the two leaders. While Paris has condemned a Turkish air strike in Iraq and accused Turkey of having "criminal responsibility" in the Libyan conflict, Recep Tayyip Erdogan sees "colonial" aims in the French intervention in Lebanon, blaming the French president to “put on the show in front of the cameras”. This Friday, Ankara accused France of behaving "like a kingpin" in the eastern Mediterranean.

A coveted area

The discovery in recent years of vast gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean has whetted the appetite of riparian countries such as Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Egypt and Israel. Greece has just signed a maritime agreement with Egypt. It aims to demarcate the maritime borders between the two countries and appears to be a response to a similar agreement reached last November between Turkey and the official Libyan government, much to Greece's dismay.

Indeed, tensions between Greece and Turkey over their territorial waters are frequent. Ankara contests the delimitation of these. The country has never signed the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which legally defines the various maritime areas.


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