The French Armies Ministry announced Thursday that France has temporarily sent two “Rafale” fighters and two ships belonging to the French Navy to the eastern Mediterranean, amid tension between Greece and Turkey over gas exploration.
The ministry said in a statement that the “Rafale” fighters will land on Thursday in La Sud in Crete. They are expected to arrive in the morning and stay there “a few days”.
The two planes “visited” Cyprus from Monday to Wednesday to conduct exercises.
And joined the frigate “La Fayette” Wednesday night in the Mediterranean Sea to the helicopter carrier “Tonner”, which was on its way to Beirut to provide assistance after the explosion that destroyed part of the capital on the fourth of August. And “Lafayette” sailed from Larnaca, “Cyprus”, and previously carried out exercises with the Greek Navy.
The ministry stressed that “this military presence aims to reinforce the independent assessment of the situation and confirm France’s commitment to freedom of movement, safety of maritime navigation in the Mediterranean and respect for international law.”
On Wednesday, the French President announced the temporary strengthening of the French military presence in the eastern Mediterranean during the coming days, calling on Greece and Turkey, the two countries of NATO, to coordinate more to reduce tension.
On July 23, Macron strongly criticized the “violation” of Greek and Cypriot sovereignty by Turkey in connection with the exploration for gas resources at sea.
The discovery of huge gas fields in the past years in the eastern Mediterranean has fueled the ambitions of littoral states such as Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Egypt and Israel.
Tensions rose on Monday with the dispatch of the “Aruj Reis” seismic survey ship, accompanied by warships, off the coast of the Greek island of Kastelorizo in the eastern Mediterranean.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Wednesday that Athens is not seeking escalation, but stressed that “any provocation will be answered