French President Emmanuel Macron has denounced what he called Turkey’s “violation” of the sovereignty of Greece and Cyprus, as tensions mount between Athens and Ankara.
Macron made the remarks on Thursday, referring to Turkey’s plans for energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.
“I would like to reaffirm once again the full solidarity of France with Cyprus and also with Greece in the face of Turkey’s violation of its sovereignty”, he declared before meeting with his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades at the Elysee Palace in Paris.
“It is not acceptable for the maritime space of a Member State of our Union to be violated or threatened. Those who contribute must be sanctioned. ”
The Greek Navy said on Wednesday it had deployed ships to the Aegean Sea in “increased readiness” after Turkey announced plans for energy exploration near a Greek island in an area it claims to be on Turkey’s continental shelf.
Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said on Thursday: “The government is stressing to all parties that Greece will not accept a violation of its sovereignty and will do whatever is necessary to defend its sovereign rights. ”
Turkey is at odds with Greece and the European Union over maritime rights in the eastern Mediterranean amid a scramble for resources following the discovery of huge gas reserves in recent years.
Energy and security issues in the region are the subject of “power struggles, especially of Turkey and Russia,” over which the European Union was not doing enough, Macron said.
Anastasiades agreed that there was “a vacuum on Europe’s part” on this issue, adding that Macron’s initiatives offered “a glimmer of hope” that the Mediterranean “will not be under Turkish control. or from another country ”.
Regarding Libya, Macron said foreign powers “whoever they are” cannot be allowed to violate a UN embargo on sending weapons to the war-torn country.
Turkey is backing the UN-recognized National Accord Government (GNA), which is fighting for control of the country against the renegade east-based commander Khalifa Haftar.
Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia all support Haftar’s claims.
Sanctions on weapons, Macron said, were necessary “to achieve a ceasefire and open a real dynamic towards a political resolution of the Libyan conflict”.
France, which denies supporting Haftar but has long been suspected of being favorable to him, angrily condemned Ankara last month after saying a French navy ship was targeted by the missile radar of a then Turkish frigate. that he was inspecting a cargo en route to Libya.
“More broadly, Europe must undertake an in-depth reflection on security issues in the Mediterranean,” said Macron, who will host a summit of southern European Union countries in late August or early September.