Tensions in the Mediterranean: Greece on the alert in the face of Turkish "provocations"

Photo of the Turkish seismic research vessel "Oruc Reis" heading west of Antalya on the Mediterranean coast, August 12, 2020. TURKISH DEFENSE MINISTRY / AFP

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4 min

In the eastern Mediterranean, the battle of words continues between Athens and Ankara, against the backdrop of territorial disputes in an area rich in gas fields. For the Greek Foreign Minister, Turkey is solely responsible for the current escalation, which once again sent a vessel to search for gas in Greek waters earlier this week. For the Turkish president, on the other hand, the resulting European military presence is akin to “banditry”. The European Union calls for a "negotiated solution and a de-escalation".


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The international context is tense with the Turkish neighbor, and political communication is affected, reports our correspondent in Athens , Joël Bronner . Saturday August 15, Orthodox Greece celebrates the Virgin Mary, and more precisely the Dormition, the equivalent - to put it simply - of the Assumption, which the Catholic Church celebrates.

So, yes, on his Twitter account, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis posted a traditional photo of him in church, a candle in his hand… and his face masked, as is compulsory in most public places closed in Greece for 15 days, coronavirus pandemic obliges.

Erdogan, an unstable character in the eyes of Athens

But the images that appear first on the social network are those, posted in parallel, of the statesman surrounded by soldiers. And the Prime Minister underlines that on this “  symbolic day  ”, he had, he wrote, “  felt the need  ” to be close to his armed forces. Adding that a strong deterrent capacity was a prerequisite for peace.

Beyond the issue of hydrocarbons and territorial disputes, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seen in Greece as an unstable personality. And the risk of a slippage linked to what Athens considers to be “  provocations  ” from Ankara, does not seem purely abstract. Many Greek soldiers know this, they who have been asked to shorten their holidays and to be ready.

Erdogan will not shrink from any "sanction"

Sanctions and threats  " will not deter Turkey from conducting energy research in an area of ​​the eastern Mediterranean disputed between Ankara and Athens, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on Saturday.
On this issue, our country is absolutely right and we will defend our rights using all the means at our disposal  ", declared the Turkish head of state during a speech broadcast on television. We will not back down from sanctions and threats,  " he added.

EU calls for "negotiated solution and de-escalation"

The European Union calls for a " negotiated solution and a de-escalation" after a meeting of the foreign ministers of the member states. The EU is concerned about the sharp rise in tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean in recent days. On Monday, Turkey dispatched a seismic research vessel to an area rich in gas fields, an area claimed by Greece. Wrath of Athens but also of France. Emmanuel Macron decided to send ships and war planes there on Thursday. This earned him the opprobrium of Turkey, accusing Paris of behaving like a “ caïd ” of the Mediterranean.

Germany, which tried to conduct a meditation, also distanced itself from France. Angela Merkel, the Chancellor said " take note " of the French maneuvers in the Mediterranean.

In the area, the situation is volatile. Ankara claims to have repelled an attempted assault on its seismic research vessel, which has not been officially confirmed on the Greek Oruç Reis side . " If this continues there will be reprisals, " Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on Friday. 

► See also: Tensions in the Mediterranean: Turkey remains uncompromising in the face of Europe

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