France deploys warship, fighter jets to Mediterranean amid growing tensions with Turkey

Greece got the "first response" from Turkey in the ongoing Mediterranean Row, Erdogan Says

France announced Thursday that it will deploy two warplanes, and reinforce its presence in the eastern Mediterranean with one of its warships.

The French Ministry of Defense said that France will send two Rafale fighter jets and the naval frigate Lafayette to the eastern Mediterranean as part of plans to increase its military presence in the region, amid indications of tension with Turkey, the Reuters News Agency reported.

Earlier in the week, French President Emmanuel Macron called on Turkey to stop drilling for oil and gas in disputed waters in that region, which led to an escalation of tensions with Greece.

Macron had rejected Turkey’s “dangerous and unilateral” steps, expressing his grave concern about the tensions caused by the “unilateral” Turkish decision to drill in the eastern Mediterranean region.

A statement by the French presidency stated that Paris decided to temporarily reinforce its military presence in the eastern Mediterranean, in order to respect international law.

Macron called for the opening of a “peaceful dialogue” between Turkey, its neighboring countries and NATO partners.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that Greece got the "first response" from Turkey in the ongoing Mediterranean crisis, hinting at the recent incident between Russian and Greek frigates.

"We said that if you attack Oruc Reis, the consequences would be great. And today, they received the first response", Erdogan said, speaking in Ankara.

The Turkish-Greek tensions escalated this week after Turkey's Oruc Reis research vessel began exploration drilling in Greek-claimed waters in the Mediterranean on Monday.

Earlier in the day, the Greek news portal reported, citing sources, that Greek naval frigate Limnos and Turkish frigate Kemalreis (F-247) "touched" each other in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The incident happened in close proximity to Oruc Reis. The area is heavily patrolled by both Turkish and Greek vessels.

Tensions between two NATO allies increased again earlier in August, after Greece and Egypt signed a maritime deal on an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the eastern Mediterranean. Ankara then slammed the agreement as "null and void," saying that Athens and Cairo share no sea border, and claimed that the area of the EEZ was in fact located on Turkey’s continental shelf. The Greece-Egypt deal prompted Turkey to resume seismic research in the eastern Mediterranean.

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