France sends jets and ships into tense Eastern Mediterranean

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Reuters

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Two French Rafale fighters are temporarily based in Crete


France is deploying two Rafale fighter jets and a naval frigate in the eastern Mediterranean due to tensions between Greece and Turkey.

French President Emmanuel Macron has urged Turkey to halt oil and gas exploration in the region’s contested waters. A Turkish investigative vessel began such a mission on Monday, angering Greece.

Mr Macron told Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis that the French military would monitor the situation.

The region is rich in untapped energy.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the only solution in the Mediterranean was dialogue and that his country was not continuing the adventure.

“If we act with common sense and reason, we can find a win-win solution that meets everyone’s interests,” he said.

There are also tensions around Cyprus over rival exploration rights. The Republic of Cyprus and Greece do not accept any of these rights for Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus in the region.

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Getty Images

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France also disagrees with Turkey on the crisis in Libya. Turkey has sent military support to the UN-recognized government in Tripoli, while France, Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates are supporting General Khalifa Haftar’s forces. Russia and the United Arab Emirates are the main suppliers of weapons for the Haftar generation.

France already has a helicopter carrier, Tonnerre, which is heading for Beirut to relieve the suffering of the city after the devastating explosion at the port on August 4.

The French frigate La Fayette has carried out exercises with the Greek navy and remains in the region. Rafale planes were in Cyprus for an exercise and are now moving to Souda on the Greek island of Crete.

Mr Macron tweeted: “I have decided to temporarily strengthen the French military presence in the Mediterranean, in cooperation with Greece and other European partners.

“The situation in the eastern Mediterranean is worrying. Turkey’s unilateral decisions on oil exploration are causing tensions. These tensions must end, to allow a peaceful dialogue between neighboring countries and NATO allies. “

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