PARIS – Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ call for an international alliance against Turkish provocations in the Aegean and East Mediterranean found a partner when French President Emmanuel Macron told the visiting leader they are in tandem.
Macron referred to what he called a “common geostrategic” vision with Greece over the seas – Turkey is drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot waters, near where the French energy giant Total is also operating.
The French leader said his country will back Greece and Cyprus as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, undeterred by the European Union’s soft sanctions and reluctance to confront him, fearing he will unleash millions more refugees and migrants on the bloc through Greek islands, has forged ahead.
Turkey and Libya also signed a deal dividing the seas between them, which Greece denounced as unlawful, but with Erdogan pressing the United Nations to support the agreement and as he said he will have Turkish ships drill off Crete.
Macron met Mitsotakis at the Élysée Palace where the French leader criticized what he also called Turkish aggression and he condemned the Libya deal that saw Turkey claim waters off Greek islands, including Rhodes, furthering fears of a potential conflict.
The EU held a meeting in Berlin earlier in January to try to bring a ceasefire between battling sides in Libya – Greece was not invited, angering Mitsotakis – and Macron said Turkey, which was there, had already violated every term reached there.
“Our condemnation of Turkey’s provocative moves is mutual… the only way to solve differences in the eastern Mediterranean is through international law,” Mitsotakis said.
”In recent days we have been watching Turkish ships and movements in the Mediterranean. It is a clear violation of the Berlin Agreement,” Macron stated, adding that France stands unequivocally by Greece and Cyprus against the Turkish provocations and violations of their sovereign rights.
”Our two nations have a common strategic vision,” Macron said as France became the strongest part of an alliance that has seen the United States try to walk the line between Greece and Turkey, with US President Donald Trump calling Erdogan a friend and “a hell of a leader.”
The US and Greece last year renewed a military cooperation deal but Greece backs Libyan forces that have the Parliament while Turkey sides with an UN-recognized administration and said it would send troops there, ratcheting up tension even more.
”Greece and France are always together on every crucial rendezvous,” said Macron, adding that he plans a return visit to Athens soon as Mitsotakis’ strategy is to try to isolate Turkey internationally as the EU, without a military force, has no way of confronting Erdogan.
”Greece hails the military presence of France in the Eastern Mediterranean.,” said Mitsotakis, referring to French naval forces operating in the waters and with the two countries having conducted operations in Greece and Cyprus for mutual defense.