Frenchman Macron says he has established red lines with Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean


PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday he had taken a firm stance over the summer on Turkey’s actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, drawing red lines as Ankara respects actions, not words .

French President Emmanuel Macron, wearing a protective mask, visits a site of the Seqens pharmaceutical group, a world leader in the production of active pharmaceutical ingredients, to mobilize innovation and support research on coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Villeneuve-la-Garenne, near Paris, France August 28, 2020. REUTERS / Christian Hartmann / Swimming pool

Relations between France and Turkey have deteriorated in recent months due to Ankara’s role within NATO, Libya and the Mediterranean.

Macron called on the EU to show solidarity with Greece and Cyprus in the dispute over natural gas reserves off Cyprus and the extent of their continental shelves and pressed for new sanctions at the level of the EU, although there are divisions in the bloc on the issue.

“When it comes to Mediterranean sovereignty, I have to be consistent in actions and words,” Macron told reporters at a press conference.

“I can tell you that the Turks only consider and respect this. If you say words that are not followed by action… What France did this summer was important: it is a red line policy. I did it in Syria, ”he said, referring to French airstrikes against suspected chemical weapons sites in Syria.

France joined military exercises with Italy, Greece and Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean this week as the dispute between Turkey and Greece escalated after Ankara sent its prospecting vessel Oruc Reis in disputed waters this month, a move Athens has called illegal.

Macron said he was firm, but restrained.

“It was proportionate. We did not send an armada, ”he said.

Macron has repeatedly demanded new EU sanctions against Turkey and the two NATO allies were nearly hit in June after a French warship attempted to inspect a Turkish vessel as part of the ‘a UN arms embargo for Libya.

“I don’t consider Turkey’s strategy in recent years to be the strategy of a NATO ally … when you have a country attacking exclusive economic zones or the sovereignty of two members of the European Union” , he said, describing Turkey. actions like provocations.

“How credible would we be in the management of Belarus if we did not react to attacks on the sovereignty of our own members?”

Germany sought a less confrontational approach, trying to mediate between Ankara and Athens.

On Tuesday, their respective foreign ministers said they wanted to resolve the issue through dialogue following discussions with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. However, everyone warned that they would continue to defend their rights in the region.

“Germany and other partners are starting to agree with us that Turkey’s agenda today is problematic,” Macron said. “Whereas six months ago people said that France is the only one to blame Turkey for things, everyone now sees that there is a problem.”

Reporting by Michel Rose and Elizabeth Pineau; Written by John Irish; Editing by Chris Reese and Frances Kerry

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