Mediterranean TINDERBOX: Turkey vows to defend waters as Greece plans military exercise

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Mediterranean TINDERBOX: Turkey vows to defend waters as Greece plans military exercise

The NATO allies have been at loggerheads ever since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent the Oruc Reis research vessel, surrounded by Turkis

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The NATO allies have been at loggerheads ever since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent the Oruc Reis research vessel, surrounded by Turkish naval frigates, to seas close to the Greek island of Kastellorizo to undertake a seismic survey. Initially the mission was due to end on Sunday, but Turkey sent out a navtex, or naval alertm confirming the ship, along with two supply vessels, would stay in the area as part of a process to prepare for oil exploration.

Greek Government spokesman Stelios Petras said: “Greece is responding calmly and with readiness both on a diplomatic and on an operational level.

“And with national confidence it does everything needed to defend its sovereign rights.”

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “Greece does not have the right to declare a ‘navtex’ in the region.”

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However, France is fully behind Greece, with French President Emmanuel Macron having sent two Rafale fighter jets and two navy vessels to Crete to support the EU member state’s naval patrols.

France is urging the EU to condemn Turkey and impose economic sanctions.

His approach was backed by former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt.

Mr Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit representative, tweeted: “Right, not military might, can solve the dispute in the Mediterranean.

“The EU must firmly support Greece to deflate tensions and bring this case asap to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.”

However, speaking on Friday Dr Alex Kazamias, a Senior Lecturer in Politics at Coventry University, was uncomfortable at Mr Macron’s approach.

However, speaking on Friday Dr Alex Kazamias, a Senior Lecturer in Politics at Coventry University, was uncomfortable at Mr Macron’s approach.

He said: “It is unwise in such a situation to send more warships to the region.

“France’s reactions can fuel more tension instead of containing it.

EU foreign ministers are due to discuss the issue in Berlin on Thursday and Friday.

On September 24 and 25, there will be a special EU summit at which tensions in the eastern Mediterranean will be discussed.

Kastellorizo is a one of many Greek islands in the Mediterranean – but is located barely a mile from the Turkish mainland.



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