Macron boosts French fleet presence in Mediterranean & demands Turkey end ‘unilateral’ oil exploration

French President Emanuel Macron announced he would deploy additional ships to the Mediterranean and called on Turkey to halt its unilateral oil exploration in disputed waters, following a call with the Prime Minister of Greece.

France will “temporarily strengthen” its military presence in Eastern Mediterranean “in the coming days,” in cooperation with its EU partners, including Greece, Macron said Wednesday after a phone call with the Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

The French president said Turkish efforts must stop in order to allow “peaceful dialogue between neighbors and NATO allies,” and pointed out that France and the EU stood in solidarity with any member whose sovereignty is being challenged. While both Greece and Turkey are members of NATO, Greece is an EU member and Turkey is not.

Macron’s statement comes after Athens raised alarm with Brussels over the seismic testing performed by Turkish vessels near the island of Kastellorizo. The island belongs to Greece but is located near the southern coast of Turkey’s Antalya province.

Earlier this summer, Macron got into a war of words with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, over Ankara’s shipments of weapons to Libya. Turkey and the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) have negotiated an agreement on economic zones in the Mediterranean that would allow Ankara to drill for oil and gas, but Greece and Egypt – backed by France – are challenging it. 

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