French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday denounced Turkey’s violation and threats against the sovereignty of Greece and Cyprus, as tensions mount in the East Med region.
Macron expressed his country’s solidarity with Cyprus and Greece saying it was not acceptable for the sea area of an EU member state to be violated and threatened.
Receiving Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades at the Elysée Palace in Paris, Macron assured his Cypriot counterpart that he could count on France’s support.
“I want once again to reiterate France’s full solidarity with Cyprus and also with Greece in the face of Turkey’s violation of their sovereignty,” the French leader said.
“It is not acceptable for the maritime space of a member state of our Union to be violated or threatened. Those who contribute must be sanctioned,” he added.
Greece’s navy said Wednesday that it had deployed ships in the Aegean in “heightened readiness” after Turkey announced plans for energy exploration near a Greek island in an area it claims is within Turkey’s continental shelf.
Turkey is at odds with Greece and the European Union over maritime rights in the Eastern Mediterranean amid a scramble for resources following the discovery of huge gas reserves in recent years.
Energy and security issues in the area are the subject of “power struggles, particularly of Turkey and Russia,” about which the European Union was not doing enough, Macron said.
Nicosia, Athens, and Paris argue that the EU is doing enough to counter Turkey’s power grab in the region.
“More broadly, Europe must undertake a thorough reflection on the security issues in the Mediterranean,” said Macron.
He will host a MED7 summit of southern European Union states at the end of August or early September.
President Anastasiades praised the leadership role of Macron in the Eastern Mediterranean and the EU, noting that France is proving to be a country of stability and security.
He praised French initiatives for the Mediterranean not to come under the control of Turkey or other forces, other than Europe.
“These initiatives showed that Europe should not restrict itself to declarations, but should take on a leading role and stand by its member states.”
Macron said the Eastern Mediterranean was of “vital importance” for Europe as were energy and security issues.
He added that it would be wrong to leave security issues in the hands of others, saying this was not an option for Europe.
President Anastasiades said that bilateral relations were excellent and assured Macron that Cyprus would always welcome the French fleet.
Following their statements to the press, the two Presidents met in the presence of their delegations to discuss cooperation between Cyprus and France in energy and defence, bilateral relations, Turkey’s provocations in the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as issues concerning EU priorities.
The Cypriot delegation comprises Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides, Defence Minister Charalambos Petrides, government spokesman Kyriacos Koushos, advisor to the president on energy issues George Lakkotrypis.