Tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean are continuing to mount.
Both Western and Turkish officials confirm to TV7 that a significant buildup of opposing naval and aerial forces in a relatively limited area of operations is increasingly threatening miscalculation that could quickly instigate a clash.
Greece — backed by France, Italy, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates — demands that Turkey end offshore gas exploration in disputed waters; while Ankara adamantly rejects Athens’ legal claims to the maritime area, and has vowed to respond with force to any seeming provocation.
Ankara was apparently infuriated when France and Italy responded to its threats by deploying additional warships to support the Greek Navy.
Speaking at a military graduation ceremony marking his nation’s Victory Day, President Erdoğan demanded to know if “Greek people accept what will happen to them because of their ambitious and incompetent rulers? Are French people aware of the price they will pay because of their ambitious and incompetent rulers?”
Doubling down on his pledge to safeguard his own national interests by any means possible, the Turkish leader went on to say, “now, we call on our enemies to bring it on with a louder voice, a more candid belief and with more confidence. Everyone who will face us on the ground, at sea and in air, has seen our determination to safeguard Turkey’s legitimacy as well as its interests, opportunities and rights stemming from international laws. Those who do not see, will face this reality in the field, at the table and on international platforms.”
In a show of solidarity with Greece and Cyprus, European Union member states are displaying a cohesive stance while emphasizing determination to defend their own interests.
EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell said that Turkey “has to abstain from unilateral actions,” which he underscored “is a basic element to allow the dialogue to advance.”
It is important to note that accusations and counter accusations stemming from several incidents over the past week involving confrontations between Greek and Turkish F-16 fighter jets in the skies above the disputed waters project an increasingly alarming reality.