France to send warships to Mediterranean to counter Turkey, Greek PM approves

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France is to send war frigates to the eastern Mediterranean to oppose Turkey’s recent assertion in the region, a decision that has been welcomed by Greece’s prime minister, according to the Guardian on Wednesday.

Turkey is currently in a standoff with neighbors Greece and Cyprus over drilling and mineral rights in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey has sent drilling ships to maritime waters which are recognized as Cypriot under international law, but which Ankara claims based on agreements with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus – a state only Turkey recognizes.

Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis described the French ships as “guarantors of peace” and said “Greece and France are pursuing a new framework of strategic defense.”

“The only way to end differences in the eastern Mediterranean is through international justice,” he added, after meeting French President Emmanuel Macron during his visit to Paris.

The Guardian report did not give details of the French naval expedition.

Turkey recently signed a deal with the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Libya in which it claimed economic rights over vast swaths of the eastern Mediterranean. The deal has rejected by the European Union as well as Egypt and the GNA’s rival government based in eastern Libya.

On Wednesday, French President Macron said France “deplores the Turkish-Libyan deal in the clearest terms.”

Turkey has also sent troops to support the GNA in its conflict with Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army.

Ahead of the decision to send ships to the eastern Mediterranean, France’s President Macron accused Erdogan of failing to “keep his word” on Libya.

“I want to express my concerns with regard to the behaviour of Turkey at the moment … we have seen during these last days Turkish warships accompanied by Syrian mercenaries arrive on Libyan soil. This is an explicit and serious infringement of what was agreed [at last week’s peace conference] in Berlin. It’s a broken promise,” said Macron on Wednesday.

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