“France’s actions in the Eastern Mediterranean are fueling tensions in the region”

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France’s recent dispatch of warships to support Greece against Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean continues to attract criticism as an attempt to fuel tensions in the region.Retired Admiral Cem Gürdeniz, the father of Turkish maritime doctrine for the “blue homeland,” said on Saturday that France’s decision to send warships to aid Greece in its Mediterranean standoff with Ankara added “fuel to the fire”.

“If France continues such provocative actions … which would not serve regional peace and stability – it would fuel the fire and France should avoid this,” Gürdeniz told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

“I have had enough of the daily verbal threats (from French President Emmanuel) Macron… For many Turks now, France is acting like a ‘enfant terrible’. Can you imagine they are threatening Turkey? ” he added.

The discovery of large deposits of natural gas in the waters surrounding the island of Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete sparked a rush for energy riches and rekindled old regional rivalries. The greatest tensions are between Turkey and Greece, historically worried NATO allies. EU foreign ministers held an emergency videoconference last week after Greek and Turkish warships collided in highly controversial circumstances.

“If Greece pulls the trigger it will be the end of NATO,” Gürdeniz said, hinting that Turkey would then withdraw from the Cold War-era military alliance.

He added that European countries should pressure Greece to drop some of its maritime claims.

Last year Turkey informed the United Nations of the limits of its continental shelf following a maritime delimitation agreement signed with the UN-backed government of national unity (GNA) of Libya, the November 27, 2019.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) describes the continental shelf within its legal definition as a section of the seabed adjacent to the coasts of the country to which it belongs.

As part of hydrocarbon exploration activities, the Turkish naval forces issued on June 21 a NAVTEX for the seismic surveys by the Orus Reis and two support vessels in the waters south of the Greek islands of Rhodes, Karpathos and Kastellorizo ​​until August 2.

Greece said it was an attempt by Ankara to encroach on its continental shelf, an allegation rejected by the Turkish government.

Ankara said the island of Kastellorizo ​​- located about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the Turkish coast and 580 kilometers (360 miles) from the Greek coast – represents 40,000 square kilometers of the continental shelf.

France, already at odds with Turkey over Libya and various developments in the Middle East, sent its own ships to the region to aid Greece, prompting Ankara to warn it would retaliate against any attack.

“The blue homeland is a symbol of Turkey’s ‘maritimeization’,” said Gürdeniz, a concept which “aims to define the maritime jurisdiction of the areas surrounding Turkey.”

Gürdeniz first used the term “Blue Homeland” in 2006 when he was the head of the Turkish Navy’s Planning and Policy Division. Its vision covers more than 460,000 square kilometers (175,000 square miles) of Turkey’s maritime borders, including the waters surrounding certain Greek islands.

He said Turkey must secure these areas for its well-being, defense, security and “even for its happiness”.

“Even if Turkey is alone in this fight” and even if sanctions are imposed, said Gürdeniz, “Turkey will not give up”.

Gürdeniz added that “Turkey should think calmly, soberly and cautiously”, and said he saw no need for external mediation, suggesting that hostilities will only end when the Greeks and Turks can end. sit down and talk about their problems.

Also speaking to Turkish public broadcaster TRT Haber, Gürdeniz said gas exploration activities were a strategic gift from the Blue Homeland to the Turkish nation.

He also added: “The interests of both seas (the Mediterranean and the Black Sea) are not only focused on energy. They also focus on geopolitics. “

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