France’s President, Emanuel Macron, Tweeted on Wednesday evening that he plans to increase the French navy’s presence in the Eastern Mediterranean.
“I have decided to temporarily strengthen the French military presence in the Eastern Mediterranean in the coming days, in cooperation with European partners including Greece,” Macron Tweeted.
The previous day Mr. Macron called on Turkey to halt its oil and gas exploration that has heightened tensions with Greece.
The French leader voiced concern over “unilateral” exploration by Turkey in a call with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Macron’s office said in a statement, adding the prospecting should “cease in order to allow a peaceful dialogue” between the neighboring NATO members.
France will “temporarily reinforce” its military presence in the eastern Mediterranean, the statement said, to “monitor the situation in the region and mark its determination to uphold international law.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Mitsotakis had warned of the potential for an “accident” with naval forces from Greece and Turkey gathering.
“The risk of an accident lurks when so many naval forces gather in a limited area and responsibility in such a case will be borne by the one who causes these conditions,” he said in a televised national address.
Tensions have flared in the eastern Mediterranean between Athens and Ankara after the Turkish research vessel Oruc Reis was sent into waters off eastern Greek islands.
Dozens of Greek and Turkish warships are now on alert in the surrounding area, with an ongoing threat of direct confrontation.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to meet his Greek counterpart, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, in Vienna.
The Greek Foreign Ministry said the two would meet in the Austrian capital on Friday, the same day an extraordinary virtual meeting of EU foreign ministers had been organized to discuss the issue.
The U.S. also called on Turkey to halt its exploration and expressed “deep concern” for Turkey’s actions.
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