The conflict over the gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean is intensifying - despite all calls for de-escalation. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on Wednesday that his country would make "no concessions" in the dispute with Greece and conjured up memories of a victory by Turkish Seljuks against Greek-Byzantine troops in the Middle Ages. Turkey will take what it is entitled to, said Erdoğan, and is determined to do everything politically, economically and militarily that is necessary. He called on the Greek government to avoid "mistakes" that could lead Greece to "doom".
The Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis described the Turkish test wells for oil and gas as an illegal provocation. Greece is only ready for a dialogue if Turkey stops drilling.
At the same time, the Greek government started a military maneuver in the region together with France, Italy and Cyprus. In addition to three Greek F-16 fighter jets, three French Rafale fighter jets will also take part. The planes operate from Paphos Airport in western Cyprus. As reported by the Cypriot State Broadcasting Corporation (RIK), a French and an Italian frigate will join this maneuver on Friday.
France warned Turkey not to use the eastern Mediterranean as a "playing field" for national "ambitions". The Cypriot Defense Ministry said "tensions and attempts to destabilize the Eastern Mediterranean" had reached a climax.
Turkey said it was conducting a military exercise with the US in the eastern Mediterranean. The Turkish warships TCG Barbaros and TCG Burgazada and the US destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill took part, tweeted the Turkish Ministry of Defense.
NATO Secretary General is "concerned"
Turkey has been searching for mineral resources near Cyprus for a long time, but without the approval of the internationally recognized government in Nicosia. Greece claims exclusive rights of use in the area because the islands there belong to its territory. The government in Ankara argues against it that islands should not be taken into account when calculating sea borders between countries. Both states organized naval maneuvers in the disputed waters. A week ago a Greek and Turkish warship collided.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he was "concerned about the situation". He attended a meeting of EU defense ministers in Berlin on Wednesday. "What we need is de-escalation, is dialogue," said Stoltenberg. He welcomed the attempts by the German government to mediate and stated that he himself was "in regular contact with Ankara and Athens".
Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) had promoted dialogue in talks with his colleagues in Athens and Ankara on Tuesday. "The current situation is playing with fire and every spark, no matter how small, can lead to a catastrophe," said Maas.
The EU regards the Turkish drilling as illegal and has therefore imposed sanctions on Turkey. The EU foreign ministers will deal with the conflict again shortly - they will meet in Berlin from Thursday. The EU Foreign Affairs Representative Josep Borrell wants to put various options for the further development of the relations between the EU and Turkey up for discussion. This also included further sanctions, said an EU representative on Tuesday. "But there won't be any resolutions yet."