France Sends Military to Eastern Mediterranean

  • France has temporarily sent two "Rafale" fighters and two ships belonging to the French Navy to the eastern Mediterranean.
  • "Emmanuel Macron is a true friend of Greece and a fervent defender of European values and international law," Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweeted, in French.
  • Erdogan held Greece responsible for escalating tension in the region, and urged Athens to "respect Turkey's rights."

Amidst continuing tension between Turkey and Greece over gas exploration, France announced it was sending two fighters and two warships to the Eastern Mediterranean, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stressed that the “only solution” to resolving the conflict with Greece is dialogue.

The relations between the Greek and the Turkish states have been marked by alternating periods of mutual hostility and reconciliation ever since Greece won its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1830. Both countries entered NATO in 1952.

The French Ministry of Armies announced Thursday that France has temporarily sent two “Rafale” fighters and two ships belonging to the French Navy to the eastern Mediterranean.  President Emmanuel Macron tweeted Wednesday:

“I have decided to temporarily reinforce the French military presence in the eastern Mediterranean in the coming days, in cooperation with European partners, including Greece.”

The ministry said in a statement that the “Rafale” fighters will land on Thursday in Crete. They are expected to arrive in the morning and stay there “a few days.” The two planes “visited” Cyprus from Monday to Wednesday to conduct exercises.

The frigate “LaFayette” joined the helicopter carrier “Tonner” on Wednesday/Thursday night in the Mediterranean, which was on its way to Beirut to provide assistance after the explosion that destroyed part of the Lebanese capital on August 4th. The “Lafayette” sailed from Larnaca, Cyprus, and previously carried out exercises with the Greek Navy.

“Emmanuel Macron is a true friend of Greece and a fervent defender of European values and international law,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweeted, in French, after a call with the French president.

The ministry stressed that this military presence aims to reinforce the independent assessment of the situation and confirm France’s commitment to freedom of movement, the safety of maritime navigation in the Mediterranean, and respect for international law.

On Wednesday, the French President announced the temporary strengthening of the French military presence in the eastern Mediterranean during the coming days, calling on Greece and Turkey, both NATO countries, to coordinate more to reduce tension.

Tensions escalated on Monday with the dispatch of the “Oruj Reis” seismic survey ship accompanied by warships off the coast of the Greek island of Kastelorizo ​​in the eastern Mediterranean.

The Dassault Rafale is a French twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. Equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions.

Commenting on developments in the eastern Mediterranean, Turkish President Erdogan said Thursday that the only solution to his country’s dispute with Greece regarding the exploration for energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean is through dialogue and negotiations, and that Ankara “is not chasing after adventures in the region.”

Speaking to members of his ruling Justice and Development Party, Erdogan held Greece responsible for escalating tension in the region, and urged Athens to “respect Turkey’s rights.” Erdogan added that he would hold talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council President Charles Michel to ease tension in the eastern Mediterranean.

For his part, Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis said Wednesday that Athens does not seek escalation, but stressed that “any provocation will be answered.”

The discovery of huge gas fields in the past years in the eastern Mediterranean has fueled the ambitions of littoral states, such as Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Egypt, and Israel. The current tension is mainly due to the disagreement between Athens and Ankara over the demarcation of their maritime borders, which stands behind many disputes in recent years between the two NATO countries.

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Joyce Davis

My history goes back to 2002 and I  worked as a reporter, interviewer, news editor, copy editor, managing editor, newsletter founder, almanac profiler, and news radio broadcaster.

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