Greece and France seek to deter illegal Turkish activity

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Greek and French Defence Ministers agreed to work together to deter Turkey’s illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean during their meeting in Athens.

Greece’s Nikos Panagiotopoulos and France’s Florence Parly said on Monday they had a complete convergence of views on the way’s security challenges in the region of the Eastern Mediterranean could be tackled.

They agreed that bilateral military cooperation is at an excellent level, expected to be reinforced by France and Greece’s decision to annually conduct a considerable number of joint military exercises and training.

On the Memorandum of Understanding signed by Turkey and the Tripoli-based government of Libya for the delimitation of maritime zones in the Mediterranean, Panagiotopoulos said that any political solution in Libya presupposes the annulment of this accord.

Parly noted that the EU and France have strongly denounced the Turkey-Libya MoU, while arguing that France’s naval presence in the region deters unilateral actions, such as Turkey’s actions in maritime zones that are not under its sovereignty.

She said that France is in discussion with Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Egypt for the reinforcement of its deterrent naval presence in the region.

France will stand by Greece and Cyprus, supporting both in their disputes with Turkey over maritime zones, Parly told a Greek newspaper on Sunday.

“France intends to stand by Greece and help it to confront multiple tensions in the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean,” Parly told To Vima newspaper in an interview.

She said French President Emmanuel Macron was clear when he met Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in late January that Paris and Athens were set to strengthen their defence cooperation.

A Greek navy frigate is already escorting French aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle in its operations in the Mediterranean.

“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 said.

Athens has been angered by an accord between Libya and Turkey signed on November 27 that maps out a sea boundary between the two countries close to the Greek island of Crete, calling the accord a blatant violation of international law.

The maritime lines also encroach on Cyprus waters. (sources CNA & Reuters)