France and Greece conduct ‘provocative’ training in East Med, Daily Sabah says

Turkey’s pro-government Daily Sabah has criticised France, Greece, Egypt, Cyprus and the UAE after they began a joint naval drill in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey's Defense Ministry held its weekly briefing on Sunday, noting that the alliance had conducted successive military drills in the Eastern Mediterranean since August “to provoke Turkey”, according to Daily Sabah

The news organisation also said that the regional alliance between the other powers is “based on hostility towards Turkey”. The Greek navy released a short video of Greek and Egyptian navy ships sailing together.

France has been pushing the EU to follow through on threats to impose economic sanctions on Turkey in retaliation for Turkey’s exploration for hydrocarbon resources in disputed waters off its southern coast which are also claimed by Greece and Cyprus. The EU meets in December to discuss a range of issues including its relations with Turkey.

The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is the guiding international treaty for dealing with maritime disputes between countries. However, Turkey has never signed the convention, making it harder for Turkey and Greece to seek the arbitration of the Convention’s court in their dispute. 

Turkey’s relationship with NATO ally France deteriorated further after French President Emmanuel Macron’s comments on “separatist Islam” following terror attacks in France in November. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for a boycott of French goods and repeatedly said the French leader needed “mental health treatment”.

Turkey is also at risk of having sanctions imposed by the United States over its purchase of the Russian S-400 air defence missile system.

Egypt has also recently concluded joint naval exercises with Russia in the Black Sea. Both countries support rebel General Khalifa Haftar’s forces in the Lybian conflict, while Turkey supports the UN-backed government in Tripoli.

The training exercise involving France, Greece, Egypt, Cyprus and UAE will continue until Dec. 6.