War mentioned in dispute between Greece and Turkey over Mediterranean

Pope Francis is praying for constructive dialogue and respect for international law amidst rising tensions between Greece and Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean.

During his Angelus address on Sunday Francis said he “follows with concern the tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.” Avoiding mentioning the nations involved, he prayed for the “instability” in the area.

“I appeal for constructive dialogue and respect for international law in order to resolve the conflicts that threaten the peace of the peoples of that region,” the Pope added.

At present Greece’s government is discussing plans to buy new military aircraft from France while Turkey is moving to explore for hydrocarbons in waters in the eastern Mediterranean that Athens claims to own.

Tensions are escalating between Greece and Turkey over what proportion of the Mediterranean sea can be judged to belong to each of the two nations.

At stake is potentially vast reserves of oil and natural gas in the region – something other Mediterranean countries have already begun to profit from.

Turkey’s push in the eastern Mediterranean is bringing regional countries and the European Union together in opposition, with France’s leaders eager to step in.

Last week, fighter aircraft from France and the United Arab Emirates joined the Hellenic armed forces for joint military exercises based out of Souda Naval Base on Crete.

Relations between Greece and Turkey have been strained for many decades.

The increased economic importance of maritime resources has led to military threats from both sides.

The two countries recently signed maritime agreements – Turkey with Libya and Greece with Egypt – outlining clashing interpretations of the border between the two territories.

Military maneuvers by both countries have continued to escalate the situation.

Two weeks ago Greek and Turkish frigates shadowing a Turkish survey ship, collided.

Last week Turkish F-16 jets prevented six Greek F-16s entering an area where Turkey was operating.

Although both Greece and Turkey are NATO members, NATO been unable to resolve the issues between them so far.

The EU says Turkey could face economic and diplomatic sanctions unless progress is made in reducing tensions.

A council of foreign ministers have reportedly agreed to a draft set of sanctions.

On 30 August, Turkey’s president, Recep Erdogan, called France and Turkey’s leaders “greedy and incompetent”.

The Turkish foreign affairs minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu also said if Greece expands its maritime borders in the Aegean Sea, this will be a cause for war.


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