French President Emmanuel Macron has denounced what he called Turkey’s “violation” of the sovereignty of Greece and Cyprus, as tensions mount between Athens and Ankara.
Macron made the remarks on Thursday, referring to Turkey’s plans for energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean.
“I want once again to reiterate France’s full solidarity with Cyprus and also with Greece in the face of Turkey’s violation of their sovereignty,” he said before talks with his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades at the Elysee Palace in Paris.
“It is not acceptable for the maritime space of a member state of our Union to be violated or threatened. Those who contribute must be sanctioned.”
Greece’s navy said on Wednesday that it had deployed ships in the Aegean in “heightened readiness” after Turkey announced plans for energy exploration near a Greek island in an area it claims is within Turkey’s continental shelf.
Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said on Thursday: “The government is underlining to all parties that Greece will not accept a violation of its sovereignty and will do whatever is necessary to defend its sovereign rights.”
Turkey is at odds with Greece and the European Union over maritime rights in the Eastern Mediterranean amid a scramble for resources following the discovery of huge gas reserves in recent years.
Energy and security issues in the area are the subject of “power struggles, particularly of Turkey and Russia”, about which the European Union was not doing enough, Macron said.
Anastasiades agreed there was “a void on the part of Europe” on this issue, adding that Macron’s initiatives offered “a glimmer of hope” that the Mediterranean will “not be under the control of Turkey or another country”.
Concerning Libya, Macron said foreign powers “whoever they are” cannot be allowed to violate a UN embargo on sending weapons to the war-torn country.
Turkey supports the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), which is fighting for control of the country against eastern-based renegade commander Khalifa Haftar.
Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia all back Haftar’s claims.
Arms sanctions, Macron said, were necessary “to achieve a ceasefire and unlock a real dynamic towards a political resolution of the Libyan conflict”.
France, which denies supporting Haftar but has long been suspected of favouring him, angrily condemned Ankara last month after it said a French navy ship was targeted by a Turkish frigate’s missile radar while inspecting cargo en route to Libya.
“More broadly, Europe must undertake a thorough reflection on the security issues in the Mediterranean,” said Macron, who will host a summit of countries of the southern European Union at the end of August or early September.