France Backs Greece, Cyprus in Disputes with Turkey, Defense Minister Says
A frigate of the Greek Navy has been escorting France’s aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle in its operations in the Mediterranean.
France will support fellow EU member states Greece and Cyprus in their disputes over maritime zones and energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, according to the French minister of defense.
“France intends to stand by Greece and help it to confront multiple tensions in the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean,” French Defense Minister Florence Parly told To Vima newspaper in an interview, as cited by Reuters.
“France supports Greece and Cyprus on the issue of respecting their sovereignty in maritime zones and condemns, together with its European partners, Turkey’s lack of respect of these fundamental rules,” Parly stated.
Greece and Turkey have been at odds over a wide range of issues, including the delineation of their exclusive economic zones, the possessions of Aegean Sea islands, mineral rights in the Aegean Sea, and the situation in Cyprus.
The Greek-speaking Republic of Cyprus itself has been at odds with Turkey in its own right over Ankara’s plans to drill for oil and natural gas in the waters around the island claimed by the latter as belonging to the unrecognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Greece and Cyprus have been increasingly cooperating with Israel, with which in January 2020 they announced the project for the construction of the EastMed gas pipeline project to deliver Eastern Mediterranean natural gas to Europe, an initiative supported by the United States.
The EU has repeatedly threatened Turkey with sanctions over its drilling plans around the island of Cyprus.
In her interview for the Greek newspaper published on Sunday, French Defense Minister Parly pointed out that French President Emmanuel Macron had been clear when he met Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in late January that Paris and Athens were set to strengthen their defense cooperation.
A Greek navy frigate is already escorting French aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle in its operations in the Mediterranean.
Greece has been angered by an accord between Libya and Turkey signed on Nov. 27, 2019, mapping out a sea boundary between the two countries close to the Greek island of Crete. Greece’s external boundaries are also the external boundaries of the European Union.
It declared the Libyan-Turkish accord a blatant violation of international law as well as “absurd” arguing that it ignored the presence of Crete between the coasts of Turkey and Libya.
The French Defense Minister stated that the maritime boundary accord between Turkey and Libya was a cause of high concern.
“This accord sets the interests and security of the area in danger. It does not have any legal value and is not in line with international law,” Parly told the Greek newspaper.
Last week, France’s Defense Minister held a meeting in Nicosia with Cypriot Minister of Defense Savvas Angelides, declaring the full support of France towards the Republic of Cyprus with regard to Turkey’s moves over Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone.
In January, Cyprus even declared Turkey “a pirate state of the Eastern Mediterranean” over its controversial moves around the island.
(Banner image: Florence Parly on Twitter)