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AFP
August 14, 2020

France, Turkey tensions worsen

World

AFP
August 14, 2020

Paris: Tensions between France and Turkey increased on Thursday as Paris announced it was "temporarily reinforcing" its military presence in the eastern Mediterranean, where Ankara is quarrelling with Greece over gas reserves.

France also criticised its Nato ally over a drone strike this week in northern Iraq, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused French counterpart Emmanuel Macron of seeking to "bring back a colonialist structure" as he visited Lebanon.

The United States called for a lowering of tensions between France and Turkey, describing them as "incredibly important Nato allies". But the two countries have been at loggerheads for months over Turkey’s military intervention in Libya to support the UN-recognised Tripoli government, with France saying Turkey was bringing the Nato alliance’s credibility into question.

France has also been critical of what it says are Turkey’s violations of the sovereignty of Greece and Cyprus. Ankara is at odds with Greece and the European Union over maritime rights in the Eastern Mediterranean over gas reserves.

The French defence ministry said two jets would arrive Thursday on the island of Crete for a stay of "several days", and that French military vessels took part in joint exercises with the Greek navy overnight.

The moves were designed "to affirm France’s commitment to free movement, to the security of maritime navigation in the Mediterranean and respect for international law", said a ministry statement.

Last month, Greece announced it had deployed ships in the Aegean in "heightened readiness" after Turkey announced plans for energy exploration near a Greek island in an area it claims is within Turkey’s continental shelf.