Greece bolstering Mediterranean presence in response to Turkey - AFP
The Greek government over the past month has taken steps to bolster its presence in the Mediterranean in response to heightened tensions with Turkey over maritime boundaries and hydrocarbon reserves of the region, Agence France-Presse reported on Saturday.
Since the beginning of the year, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has revamped a defence agreement with the United States, sent a warship to join a French naval battle group and agreed to deliver a batch of U.S.-made Patriot missiles to Saudi Arabia to guard energy facilities, the AFP said.
Greece’s moves came after Ankara and the U.N.-recognised Libyan government in Tripoli signed a memorandum of understanding in November that made two countries maritime neighbours, ignoring the territorial waters of some Greek islands.
The tensions were high in east Mediterranean throughout last year, as Turkey stepped up efforts to exploit the potentially rich hydrocarbon reserves in the region, by sending two drilling vessels off Cyprus.
And after a decade-long debt crisis that saw Greek arms spending drop by over 70 percent, the Mitsotakis government, which came to power in July, wants to be heard, AFP quoted Spyridon Litsas, a professor of international relations at the University of Macedonia, as saying.
Right now, "France is the ideal Greek ally", said Panagiotis Tsakonas, a professor of international law at Athens University.
"The two countries share views on the situation in the eastern Mediterranean," he said, citing involvement of French firms in energy exploration off Cyprus, historically Greece's chief ally.
Athens "must demonstrate its presence and secure backing in the face of Turkish claims in the region,” Constantinos Filis, executive director of the Athens-based Institute of International Relations, told AFP.