Turkish admiral accuses France of “adding fuel to the fire” in Mediterranean drizzle

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                La décision de la France d'envoyer des navires de guerre pour aider la Grèce dans son bras de fer méditerranéen avec Ankara ajoutait "du carburant au feu", selon le contre-amiral turc Cem Gurdeniz, qui a averti le président Emmanuel Macron de ne pas s'engager dans des menaces qui pourraient mettre en péril le partenariat de l'OTAN.
            

Alors que les navires de guerre de France, de Grèce et de Turquie convergent vers une zone controversée de la Méditerranée orientale, le contre-amiral Cem Gurdeniz s'est lancé dans une critique ouverte de la gestion de l'affaire par le président français Emmanuel Macron.

“I’m tired of Macron’s daily verbal threats,” francophone and francophile Gurdeniz, 62, told AFP.

“For many Turks now, France acts like a ‘enfant terrible’. Can you imagine they are threatening Turkey? ” He asked.

The discovery of large deposits of natural gas in the waters around Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete sparked a rush for energy riches and rekindled old regional rivalries.

Safe maritime navigation

On August 1, a defense cooperation agreement between France and Cyprus, signed three years earlier, entered into force.

On August 13, the French Defense Ministry said in a statement that France would “temporarily strengthen” its military presence in the Mediterranean, participate in naval exercises with the Greek Navy and aim to help “secure maritime navigation” in the Mediterranean. region.

“If France continues such provocative actions … which would not serve regional peace and stability – it would fuel the fire and France should avoid it,” Gurdeniz retorted.

End of NATO?

The greatest tensions are between Turkey and Greece, historically worried NATO allies, which almost went to war over some uninhabited islets in the Aegean Sea in 1996.

Gurdeniz, now retired, helped shape the Blue homeland, or vision of the “blue homeland” over ten years ago, which is emerging as a reality for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as he claims his position in the region.

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,” Gurdeniz said, hinting that Turkey would then withdraw from the Cold War-era military alliance.

“European countries should put pressure on Greece to give up” some of its maritime claims, he said.

‘Cold blood’

Erdogan tempered his fiery rhetoric with calls for talks, which were launched with sporadic success by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Germany’s mediation effort between Turkey and Greece aims to defuse tension over contentious areas of the continental shelf in the eastern Mediterranean ahead of the informal meeting of European Union foreign ministers on 27 August, according to the English version of the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will travel to Athens and Ankara on August 25 to meet first his Greek counterpart, Nikos Dendias, then his Turkish counterpart, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, according to the newspaper.

Gurdeniz welcomed the move towards diplomacy and said “we should think cool, soberly, cautiously”.

But he did not see the need for external mediation, suggesting that hostilities will only end when the Greeks and Turks sit down and speak candidly about their problems.

Hard line

Gurdeniz overwhelmingly endorses Edrogan’s hard line, but also regrets Turkey’s growing diplomatic isolation in an increasingly unstable region.

He called Turkey’s decision to sever relations with Egypt after the military ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in 2013 a “mistake”.

“Turkey could have won over Egypt. Moreover, starting with Egypt, we could have made gains with Israel too, ”said Gurdeniz.

But his eyes lit up and his easy smile widened when he spoke of “the growing interest of young people” in Turkey’s maritime claims.

“I do a lot of interviews with YouTubers,” the retired admiral said, noting that the annual enrollment of new cadets in naval schools is steadily increasing.

He also stressed that the Mediterranean only represents “1%” of the world’s oceans and seas.

“I always stress that Turkey should go beyond that 1 percent: the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea and the Atlantic,” Gurdeniz said.

“Turkey should have a presence there. It is a reflection of growing power. “

            

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