A dangerous conflict over natural gas drilling is looming in the Eastern Mediterranean. French head of state Macron is calling for “red lines” against Turkey. The charge of arrogance comes from Ankara.
French President Emmanuel Macron used the southern EU summit in Corsica to launch another attack on his Turkish colleague Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey is no longer a partner in the Eastern Mediterranean, Macron said in the capital Ajaccio on Thursday. Turkey immediately responded with harsh criticism of the statements of the most powerful French.
Macron previously called on journalists to take a strong European stand against the Turkish government. Europe’s voice must be more united and clearer than before. “Our red lines are simply respect for the sovereignty of each European member state, respect for international law”. He would like to re-establish a “fruitful dialogue with NATO member Turkey”.
Turkey: Macron’s statement is arrogant
At the same time, the French head of state confirmed that France would support Greece in the conflict with Turkey. There are ongoing discussions on a strategic partnership that will lead to the signature of an agreement in the coming months.
Turkey responded sharply to Macron’s comments. The French president had made an “arrogant statement” that reflected his inability and despair, he said in a message from the Turkish Foreign Ministry. Macron’s behavior shows “old colonialist reflexes” and jeopardizes the interests of the EU. Moreover, he had no authority to decide on borders in the Mediterranean.
Saber rattles in the Mediterranean
The situation in the Eastern Mediterranean has recently become dangerously tense. Turkey is looking for natural gas reserves. Greece and Cyprus believe that drilling takes place in their sea areas and is therefore illegal. Ankara rejects this. France has recently increased its military presence in the region as a sign of solidarity with Athens and Nicosia.
Macron invited heads of state and government from six southern EU countries to the talk on Thursday in Corsica. During their deliberations, the so-called “Med7” called on Turkey to quickly change course. The partners show solidarity with Greece and Cyprus, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said. Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis stated, according to an official translation, “Turkey must refrain from investigations.” He asked Ankara to return to the negotiating table.
The group of seven also includes Cyprus, Malta, Spain and Portugal. Mitsotakis had already threatened Turkey with sanctions before the meeting. In an article in the name of the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” he also suggested referring the International Court of Justice. If Ankara fails to understand its senses at the special EU summit at the end of the month, EU heads of government have “no choice but to enact effective sanctions,” Mitsotakis wrote.